Methods for Trustbuilding

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For group collaboration it needs trust. As one or two units within the first parts of a program such units for trustbuilding ease the atmosphere and support the group feeling and capacity for empathy. By sensitizing one's own sensory perception, a sensitization for the other participants can be reached. In the following participants can build relationships form a basis of trust within the group better.

From Easy to Challenging

Please chose the exercises in an order that increases the level of trust from step to step. Therefore, it is recommended to go from easy to more complex exercises.


What is easy and what not, depends from the comfort zone and the cultural expectations of your participants. It is very important to signal the participants that all of these exercises work on a voluntary basis. Therefore, every participant has all the time the right to use the stopping-rule, which means that he or she can stay silent at any time without having to justify the decision if he or she feels that it becomes too intimate for him or her.


The evaluation is part of the unit. Therefore, it is recommended to talk about the participant's feelings in a relaxed atmosphere:

How do you feel now?

Was it difficult / easy, pleasant / unpleasant to trust a person that you have only known for a couple of days? Were you afraid?

Which role did you like better? In which role did you feel more comfortable, as the guide or the person that was guided?

What did you learn about yourself?

Do you feel more confidence and trust within the group?


All of our daily movements are more or less automatic, especially the walking. Of course, everybody has his or her own way of walking - a personal automatic way of moving. We also adapt our movements to the places where we are: when we cross the access to the underground station we walk quickly, in other places we stroll along slowly.As soon as we change the way we walk, we change the contraction in our muscles, use different groups of muscles and are more aware of the possibilities that our body has. The following exercises allow the participants to try out different ways of walking.


"Do you know dominoes? Let’s play dominoes with our bodies."

1. Ask one person in the group to start by thinking of two personal characteristics which they then announce to the group, such as: «On my left side I am a girl, on my right side I have two brothers»

2. Then call for someone else in the group who shares one of those characteristics to hold the first person’s right or left hand (according to the characteristic they have in common) and then add a characteristic of their own on the free side. For example: «On my right I am a girl, on my left I have brown eyes.»

3. Get all the members of the group to take a turn so that in the end you have a circle in which everybody is linked to everybody else.

4. If a stated characteristic is not shared by someone else in the group and the domino can not be matched ask players to negotiate another feature so that the chain is continued.

Tips for the facilitator: The characteristics given above are only examples, any person can choose or start with any feature they like, whether it is visible or not. It is important that the members of the group actually establish physical contact, this encourages a stronger group feeling. The way the contact is made can be to touch heads, to put arms round each other, to put feet together, etc. Players can stand up or lie down.

If the suggested characteristics tend to be repetitive, you may encourage the participants to come up with new ones. It is also best if the characteristics are not very simple. You could encourage the group to say visible characteristics (colour of clothes or of hair), invisible or personal ones (hobbies, favourite food, favourite song to sing in the shower...), or others related to a topic. Experience

This game must be played quickly so people don’t get bored while they are waiting to match up.

Slow Motion

The last person at the finishing line is the winner! The participants walk very slowly. With each big step they lift the foot as high as they can and replace it by stamping on the floor. All of the body supports the movement. With every step the balance has to be regained. There is always one foot on the ground. When the right foot touches the ground, the left one leaves the ground and so on. Walk slowly, do not stand still!

The right angle

Everybody is sitting on the floor, arms and legs are stretched in a right angle to the body. The participants start to "walk" on the bottom by moving alternately their right and left part of the body. Do not do it too fast, this is not a race! After walking this way for a fixed distance, the participants change direction and walk backwards on their bottom. Arms and legs are stretched again.

Balance 1

Everybody is standing solidly on the ground (the feet have the same distance as the shoulders do) and starts to swing slowly forward and backwards. The participants find the middle and start to swing so strongly, that they loose the balance. They have to look for help and then find the ground again and stand solidly. They feel the ground and realise that they can stand on their own feet.

Balance 2

Two partners that have approximately the same strength take their hands. They start to push each other away with their hands. Then they can use their hands to lean backwards at the same time.


The participants slowly walk around the room on their own. They are aware of their breath. After a short time they form couples. One partner guides the other one, only by touching him or her with the finger. The other person has the eyes closed.

Variation: The process is the same except for the fact that that the guide steers the other person like a car on the back. Knocking on the left or right arm means turning into the respective direction, the neck is the brake and so on. After a while the partners change.


Everybody concentrates on a point somewhere in the room, then closes the eyes and slowly starts to walk to the point. Collisions have to be avoided. After some time and a symbol (e.g. specific noise) the participants open their eyes and look how far away or close they are from the point they thought of at the beginning.

Closed Eyes

The participants walk through the room. When they see a signal they close their eyes. A name is said and everybody has to point into the direction in which they suspect the person. The participants open the eyes again and control if they were right.

The Shouting

The participants form couples: one of them is the guide the other one a blindfolded person. The guide makes a specific noise, e.g. like a cat or a bird, and the other person has to recognise him. The game starts when half of the group is blindfolded and the guides start to make their specific noise and slowly walk around. The guide changes position, in a smaller and bigger distance to the blindfolded person while quietly making their noise. The blindfolded people have to search their guide by listening to them. They do not have to get disorientates by the other sounds that are in the room.

Every guide is responsible for the security of his or her partner. The blindfolded person only moves when he or she hears the sound of the partner. When the sound stops the blind person stops to move immediately too. In this way collisions can be avoided.


Partner exercise: One partner takes a certain position in the room, the other one has to find out the position with closed eyes by feeling in order to take the same position. Then both of them open the eyes and compare their positions.

Blind Walking

This activity should be carried out outside with a lot of space. Couples are formed and one partner chooses an object (e.g. a tree, house, chair). He closes the eyes and starts to walk to the object. The partner has the eyes open and supports the blind person. The speed is a decision by the blind person.

Hands on the back

Partner exercise: One partner walks slowly. His or her body is completely relaxed. The other person follows him or her while having the hand on the others back in order to support him or her and give warmth.

Numbers dropping

The participants count so that everybody has one number. They then move together in the room or a fixed field, but really close to each other. When the facilitator calls a number, the corresponding person has to fall down. The other participants have the task to not let him or her fall, but to cushion the person.

Reeling Bottles

The participants are standing in a circle. They lean forward without moving the rest of their body. They do not move the head, do not bend over and even the feet stay on the ground. The only thing that moves is the ankle. They then lean back and forward again into the circle a couple of times. Afterwards they lean to both sides. Again neither the torso goes to the side nor the feet leave the ground. Then the participants start to make circles (forward - left - backward - right). Then the other way round (forward - right - backward - left). The exercise is repeated a couple of times. Finally, the circle becomes closer and the participant can repeat the exercise.


Four to seven participants form a small circle. One person is in the middle of the circle with closed eyes and lets her or himself fall forward, backward and to the sides. The participants in the circle have to cushion the one in the middle and move him or her in a controlled way in the circle.

Island Method

Ten participants are in a small and limited field. The field becomes smaller and smaller. The game can be played for example on newspaper.

Land of Milk and Honey

Small groups of three participants are formed. Every participant gets five minutes, where the other two have to fulfil his or her wishes in every way they can. Afterwards it is the turn of the other two ones.

Trial of Strength 1

The participants form couples. the two partners are standing in front of each other and put their hands on their partners shoulders. With a signal they start to push each other strongly. They are not allowed to actually move the partner, so no one can win or loose the game. If one partner realises that the other one is weaker, he or she does not push so strong any more. If the other one pushes stronger again, he or she will do the same.

Trial of Strength 2

The participants form groups of five to six people. One participant is sitting on a chair and tries to get up. The others do not allow him this. With a signal they suddenly throw him or her into the air.

Variation: One participant is lying on the floor and makes himself really heavy. The others try to lift him or her up into the air. Finally they can lift him or her. They hold the participant up above their heads and swing him or her softly like a wave in the ocean.

Elastic Train

The participants are standing in a circle and hold their hands. The participants widen the circle until only the fingertips touch each other. Then they come together so that the circumference of the circle is as small as possible. This exercise can be combined with an exercise for the voice: When widening the circle the participants make sounds that express their desire to be close to each other, when coming together the sounds have to express the desire for more distance.

The king

One participant is standing in the middle of the circle, he or she is the king. He or she starts to move and everybody has to help him or her to do this movement. If the king raises for example a leg another participant has to lay him or herself immediately under the foot. The king can do everything that he or she likes - climb, spin around, let himself fall down - the others support him or her whatever he or she does. The king moves really slowly, so that the others have enough time to preview his or her actions in order to support the king. Therefore, the other participants have to be in constant body contact with the king so that they can decode the movements of his or her muscles in the right way. No matter what, the king must not be influenced in his movements, he or she is the only one who decides what movements to do next. He finishes the activity by asking to be let down on the ground softly by the other participants. It is possible to form more than one group if there are many participants. Everybody should have the possibility to be the king.


The participants form couples. One participant names two parts of the body which have to be brought together. If someone says: "Nose to elbow!", everybody has to try to touch with the nose the elbow of the partner. Other possibilities could be: "Foot to the knee!", "Ear to the palm of the hand!", "Belly to the knee!" etc. The combinations become more and more complicated, until the couples do not succeed in welcoming each other any more. With a signal the couples change and the game restarts.


One participant is a bear, all the others are woodcutters. The bear bellows really loud. The woodcutters (standing with their backs to the bear) fall down immediately and stay stiff. The bears goes from one woodcutter to the next sniffs, bellows, touches and tickles the woodcutters, in short: it does everything in order to bring them back to life. If it is successful, the woodcutter transforms into another bear and helps the other bear to wake up the woodcutters. The game is over when all woodcutters have transformed into bears.


A participant takes a seat on a chair. Another participant takes a seat on his or her lap and another one on his or her lap and so on until it does not work any more. Everybody puts the arms around the hips of the person sitting on his or her lap. Now it is their turn to move the right and the left legs all together, as if they wanted to walk together. The chair is taken away but nobody falls down because everybody is sitting and holding onto the person sitting on his or her lap. The participants then try to make a circle which is moving constantly to both sides. When the circle is closed the participants can take their arms away. It is also possible to start with three chairs in three lines. When the chairs are taken away the first person of each line has to try to take a seat on the last person of the other lines.

Crossed Legs

The participants form couples that are standing next to each other. They put one of their arms around the other person's hips and they cross either their left leg with the right one of his partner or the other way round. The race starts. Everybody has to make an effort because the partner cannot help that much.


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