Team activity — What were you thinking?

This activity helps team members consider how their external behaviour can better reflect internal intent. 

Share on.articles

Time required

Approximately 25 minutes, depending on group size.


You will introduce the session and then have a different person read one example at a time. You’ll then ask the question and take up a few responses, then move to the next example.

Suggested wording 

Don’t believe everything you think. Our mind likes to make us believe that our thoughts are facts, even when they’re inaccurate. This can make it difficult to enjoy and appreciate certain things in life. From personal insecurities to environmental factors, anything can affect how we think and see our thoughts. 

I’m going to ask someone to read each of the different thought distortions. We’ll then explore how we might turn that thought distortion into something that’s more true. Each of these are types of thoughts any of us can experience. As we review them, consider how you might be able to challenge these thoughts and approach them differently. Challenging thoughts is not the same as thinking happy thoughts about something that doesn’t make you happy. We want to be realistic, reasonable and objective with our thoughts. 

When something is all good or all bad 

  • Why this matters. If you think something isn’t perfect, your mind makes you see it negatively.
  • Doing it differently. Consider where you did well and where you could improve on your task. By doing this, we acknowledge that we make mistakes and that everything we do does not have to be perfect. However, this gives us the opportunity to try new things with less fear. We understand that we will learn and see where we can improve.
  • Question. You have completed a report and found 2 typos after you sent it to your boss. Rather than seeing the report or yourself as a failure, what would be a more reasonable thought? How could you test this thought? 

Making negative assumptions 

  • Why this matters. When we conclude that someone’s intention or motivation is negative, even an innocent comment or kind gesture can be viewed with suspicion. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflict that are unnecessary.
  • Doing it differently. Don’t let your mind get stuck on the negative and make assumptions that haven’t happened yet or may not happen at all. Look at the full situation from a logical point of view – both positive and negative - before assuming the worst.
  • Question. A colleague hasn’t responded to your email asking for help with something, your first thought is they’re annoyed or don’t like me. What would a more reasonable thought be? How could you test this thought? 

Stop deflecting, start reflecting 

  • Why this matters. When others compliment you on something, you immediately deflect it while also casting doubt on yourself.
  • Doing it differently. Next time you receive praise, notice the first thoughts in your mind. Reflect on the content of your thoughts and learn to understand why your mind leads you to think this way. Allowing yourself to accept more feedback that is positive can boost your self-esteem and encourage positive thinking.
  • Question. Someone has said you’re looking great today and your immediate thought is I look a mess, they’re just saying that to be polite. What would a more reasonable thought be? How could you test this thought? 

Should I feel guilty? 

  • Why this matters. You have an ideal of what you should say or do in all situations and may feel guilty for not following through perfectly all the time.
  • Doing it differently. Change how you judge yourself, so you don’t feel pressured to be perfect. Guilt can cause you to feel stuck; therefore, think instead about what the guilt is telling you to do and what not to do. If you feel bad about hurting someone’s feelings, let them know how you are feeling. You may find that they never gave it another thought. If it is true that you hurt someone, apologize as soon as possible so you can make it right. If you cannot apologize find a way to make someone else or some other situation better as a way to address and eliminate the guilt.
  • Question. Your colleague sent you a text asking for help and you read it but then got distracted and forgot to respond. You’re feeling bad about making them feel dismissed or ignored. What would a more reasonable thought be? How could you test this thought? 

It’s not your fault 

  • Why this matters. You self-blame for starting negative events that you could not control and/or think that negative feelings you experience result in current events in life.
  • Doing it differently. Don’t put too much blame on yourself, especially for things that you can’t control. Take these negative thoughts and emotions as an opportunity to reflect. Why do you feel this way? How do your feelings relate to your current situation? Instead of self-blame, encourage yourself through self-boosts of positivity to help you get through these events or emotions.
  • Rather than asking another question, I want you to check out these resources related to your circle of influence and control | PDF.  These tools help with what control you have and what control you don’t have.

I’ll leave you with this to do on your own. If you encounter these types of thoughts, try to approach them differently with these tips. The goal is to develop healthier and more positive thinking. 

Find more activities like this at Team building activities.

Contributors include.articlesTrinelle Brown

Related articles.articles

Article tags.articles

Choose an option to filter.articles


To add a comment.comments