Team activity — Deal with disappointment

This team-building activity helps team members develop skills to move beyond a disappointment.

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Time required

Approximately 15-30 minutes, depending on the group size.


Provide the brief introduction below and then ask team members to do the activity outlined. Note: Three years is usually enough time to have gained insight about a past disappointment. A more recent disappointment may not work for this activity. 

If someone in your group was recently passed over for a promotion, the suggested wording below should be modified to a less personally painful example, such as a business closing down or some other disappointment. 

Ask each person to jot down a few notes so that they know which event in their lives they are referring to. If someone cannot think of an example, allow them to pass. Once they have written down the event, ask them to write their responses to the two questions below. 

Suggested wording 

Imagine working hard for many years, maybe your whole career, in the same job and then a promotion becomes available. You feel this is finally your chance to move forward. Your co-workers seemingly all believe you deserve it and are behind you. And then you don’t get the promotion.

It can be devastating.

What I’d like you to do now is recall a work-related disappointment from at least three years ago. It could be while working here or at a previous job. It could be a door that closed or an opportunity denied. It could be a project that was not successful or a plan that was shelved.

Next take a moment to record your answers to the following two questions, which I’ll ask you to share.

  1. What opportunities were eventually made possible after the disappointment?
  2. How did the disappointment help you grow, develop or change?


Share your personal response and then ask for volunteers to share theirs. After everyone who wants to share has done so (just 2 or 3 people is sufficient to make the point), move on to the following wrap up. 

Suggested wording 

Often what seems like a defeat in life can actually be a stepping-stone to something else. In the example shared about not getting a promotion, the individual decided to look for another job and ended up in a new and exciting career.

Looking back, they realized that had they been given the promotion, they would have stayed where they were and missed out on an amazing opportunity. 

Understanding what good can come from disappointment may not make it easier in the moment, but it can help us to gain perspective and put it behind us faster. 

Find more activities like this at Team building activities.

Contributors include.articlesMary Ann BayntonWorkplace Strategies team 2007-2021

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