One of the reasons people don't get along at work is because they don't really know each other as human beings. They see each other as functions, and by golly, Finance is always thwarting HR's plans to make employees happy, so if you work in finance, I'm going to dislike you. (Just kidding, I like everyone.) If you can get people talking, you can help avoid some of the conflict that comes just from daily work life.

Strategy and design agency Sub Rosa developed a card game called Questions and Empathy that aims to get people talking by pushing them out of their comfort zones. Adweek describes it as follows:

The full deck, which is somewhat reminiscent of a deck of tarot cards, includes 49 question cards and seven "empathic archetypes," with seven questions for each archetype. The seven different archetypes are somewhat abstract, with names like inquirer and alchemist. The questions are designed to push people out of their comfort zones and get them to have honest, open conversations.

Fair warning from the Sub Rosa team: Things can get deep pretty quickly. But it's all part of the experience--learning to trust those you work with by opening up to them over what is essentially a card game.

While this sounds like it could really make a difference and is less dangerous than the "trust falls" people used to do, there are some things to be worried about.

For instance, not everyone wants to be pushed out of their personal life comfort zone and it's not really the boss's job to make them do that. Yes, it's the boss's job to help push you out of your work related comfort zone so that you can achieve better things, but not the boss's job to push you into changing your co-workers into confidants.

If you're going to require that employees participate in such a game, set the guidelines so that the answers must stay within the work realm. Otherwise, you'll be pressuring employees to share things they may not want to share. And even if some people are comfortable sharing deep secrets about their personal lives, not everyone is comfortable hearing them.

However, if the game works to build relationships within your office, it's worth a shot. Just set the ground rules so you don't end up learning things you really don't want to know.

Published on: May 12, 2017