What is this method?
This is a beautiful method to facilitate a more personal connection between participants. It is best used rather in the beginning and can be kept general or it can also be modified to address the purpose of the workshop.
How does the process look like?
Basically, the main question is “Which 2 people and/or 2 experiences that have shaped who you are today?”. However, that question can be adapted to e.g. “2 people and/or 2 experiences that have shaped your relationship to money and success” if you have a workshop on the topic of money for instance.
The first step is to make a choice about when in your program you want to use this method and for what purposes. Knowing that there is not one right way to do it, you may want to consider the following questions:
How well do people know each other already?
How comfortable are people with sharing more openly?
How important is it for the people to feel connected with each other more personally?
Is the theme of your workshop adequate to adapt the main question of this exercise?
These questions are meant to guide your thinking. In your mind imagine different scenarios until you get a feeling for what might work best.
Once you have an idea of when and how to use the exercise, you can run people through it:
“We will now do an exercise that will enable us to share a bit more on a personal level with each other. It’s called 2 people 2 experiences. I will play some music and while the music is playing, think about “2 people and 2 experiences that have shaped who you are today”. Once the music stops find two other people so you form a group of three. After that, everyone will have the chance to share their stories to the extend you feel comfortable with for 5min. This will be an exercise in listening. The listeners are there to pay attention, so don’t ask questions or interrupt. If there’s silence, sit with it and enjoy :)”
3-5min: play a nice song while people walk around
3min: stop the music and facilitate the group building process (groups of 3, if needed one or two groups of 4, they then have 4min to share and will take 1min longer than the other groups: groups of 3 = 15min; groups of 4 = 16min)
5min: Invite the first person to share. Announce that after 5min you will hit the gong. Hit the gong at 4:30 so people have enough time to end their sentence.
5min: 2nd person’s turn to share
5min: 3rd person’s turn to share
—> For the Groups of 4 you either let them take care of the time themselves (easier for you as a facilitator, otherwise you have to run two timers simultaneously)
Optional 5min: let them share some words of appreciation in their small groups
Optional 5-15min: debrief in the big group, ask not to share the story again, but a meta-reflection about their experiences: “how was it to share and to listen to others?”, “what did you learn about your life or life in general?”
Here, some people might be very moved as they got to realise the influence a certain moment or person made in their life. This is, in almost all cases, a beautiful emotion of deep gratitude.
This exercise is a powerful tool to help people open up. When you adapt the exercise to a specific theme it may change in depth. In most cases however, it helps you to connect abstract topics (like money and belief systems around it) with very tangible experiences and emotions. It is suggested that you use such an exercise when the flow and purpose of the workshop is in fact building on experiences and “embodied knowing”. If your workshop is a conceptual, abstract or theoretical discussion, such an exercise is not recommended.
Needed tools, materials, people etc.
Time: between 20min to 45min.
Material: Music, Flipchart, Gong (nice to have)
Our Experience with this Method
Originally, I have experienced this method for the first time during a training called “The Human Element”. Ever since I’ve used this method for the purpose of enabling people to connect deeply to themselves and others while practicing deep listening. At collaboratio helvetica we used it for the first time during our first coworkation in August 2017 at Frohheim, Toggenburg:
One of the mornings of the coworkation was dedicated to exploring “regenerative work”.
At that time the Impact Hub Zürich had experienced several cases of burn-out. And it was and is not alone. Wherever we look, people are reporting that they are close to a burn-out or beyond the threshold already. This felt especially disturbing given that most of us are working in the impact sector and want to contribute to a world that is truly sustainable, ourselves included. As we believed that it’s a systemic issue and not just individual cases, we felt that it was high time to take an honest look at the root causes that give rise to this phenomenon.
There are many places to look for root causes. The Integral Map of Ken Wilber with the four quadrants suggests that we can look at interior and exterior causes on both the individual and collective levels. To start our exploration we used a slightly adapted form of the 2people2experiences method:
After quickly introducing the purpose, context and aim of the session but before any real check-in in the circle we send people out to first reflect for 5min in silence and then sharing in groups of three the following question:
What are 2 people and 2 experiences that have shaped what work is to you?
After that we came back together in the big circle and checked-in with the questions:
What did you (re-) learn about yourself and about work?
Though, the workshop after this session went a bit sideways, up until then people were experiencing a meaningful way to “land” into the group and the theme of the workshop. People shared that by asking themselves where their most pertinent assumptions about work come from and by listening to others share their most impactful experiences and role-models, they already started to become more conscious about their own healthy and unhealthy thought-patterns.
In this case the adapted method of 2people2experiences had helped us as a group to connect with each other and to the topic in a grounded and yet holistic way.