Skip to Content

11 Reasons Why the Telephone Game Is Great for Team Building

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Business Colleague Whispering

Communication is a key element of teamwork. Any business hoping to achieve a seamless workflow and ensure that each team member is working to their full potential, while being satisfied in the workplace, needs to emphasize regular and effective team-building efforts.

Team building is not something that just happens in the workplace. Managers need to orchestrate time away from the office to focus on carrying out various activities that spur on trust and better communication between each and every staff member. 

When planning a team-building exercise, it is important to choose tasks and activities that will have an impact on your team. If you want to focus on clear communication and how to break tasks down into bite-size steps in the workplace, the Telephone Game is a great choice. 

Today, we are going to take a look at how businesses have used the Telephone Game, aka Chinese Whispers, to boost team-building results.

11 reasons why the Telephone Game (Chinese Whispers) is effective for team building:

1. Teaches colleagues to listen more carefully to each other.

As the message is whispered from one player to the next, careful attention must be given to what the person is whispering. This means that the player must actually pay attention to their colleague. If they aren’t prone to doing so in a work environment, they may struggle with this at first.

2. Promotes clear and concise communication.

The player who is whispering the message wants to ensure that their colleague actually hears what they are saying. Because of this, they cannot carelessly pass the message along. They need to take care to clearly whisper the message while pronouncing the words correctly. 

3. Makes team members aware of the complexities of communication.

Communication can be rather complex, and this is something that the Telephone Game can bring to light. When some team members struggle to hear what the message is, it may make them realize that the problem could lie with them or their colleagues. It can be quite difficult to communicate clearly when everyone seems to communicate differently. 

The game may make players start to think about how they can work with colleagues to relay messages in a way that are easy to understand. 

4. Illustrates the risks associated with poor communication.

Poor communication is highlighted quite effectively by a game of Chinese Whispers. As the message is passed along and eventually repeated at the end of the line, some team members may be surprised to hear just how misconstrued the message was by the end of the game. 

As a result, this will undoubtedly shine a spotlight on how poor or careless communication can result in things going wrong. Sometimes in a work environment, these errors can result in money loss. 

5. Promotes trust between colleagues.

Trust is something that all business owners want their employees to have in the business and among colleagues. Chinese Whispers can help to promote overall trust. How, you ask? 

Large business team showing unity with their hands together

In order for a player to confidently pass the message along, they must be sure that their colleague has delivered the correct message to them. A player must trust their colleagues to give them the correct message instead of tricking them or putting them in a bad position by misconstruing the message on purpose.

Trust is a big deal in a successful team. 

6. Teaches the role and responsibility each team member has in the outcome of every project.

How seriously does each individual in the workplace take their role and responsibility? You will find that people can view things quite differently in this regard. 

In a game of Chinese Whispers, every team member’s part is important. If just one team member gets something wrong, the entire message can be ruined. Because of this, every player has the responsibility to clearly communicate the message and take it seriously. 

This can be a lesson to those who don’t take their part seriously in the work environment. This can illustrate how simply ignoring their role and responsibility can ruin it for everyone. 

7. Casts a spotlight on how office gossip works.

If you decide to use a hot piece of gossip as the message to deliver to the first player, colleagues can see how a small piece of information can be changed into something that’s damaging to the subject of the gossip, as well as make them look bad in the process. If gossip is something that is tearing your team apart, this is an excellent team-building game to play. 

8. Builds a sense of belonging (“we are all in this together”).

One thing about Chinese Whispers is that there are no opponents in the game. The entire line is one team, and the objective is to ensure that the message is delivered perfectly to the last person in the line. 

As no one is playing against each other or trying to win in the line, it creates a sense of belonging and togetherness amongst the players. All the players are in it together and what happens to one player in the game happens to all players. 

9. Teaches the importance of breaking complex info into memorable and actionable chunks.

One very big lesson that the Telephone Game can teach people, especially those working in service departments and customer care, is how to provide and work through information. For instance, if a client phones through to the customer care department and needs guidance on how to work through a complex system-related problem, it would be useless for an agent to rattle off directions quickly. 

However, if they slow things down and carefully break the information into smaller bits of clear information, the client will be happy and will succeed. The same concept is at play in a game of Chinese Whispers

If each player quickly whispers what they think they heard, they may not deliver the message, but if they carefully and slowly repeat the message and make sure to clearly pronounce each word, the message will come out just fine on the other end. 

10. Creates a clear distinction between the team jokers and the team players. 

Many business teams have that one person who plays the fool all the time instead of focusing on important tasks at hand. When playing Chinese Whispers, it can shine a bright spotlight on these people and make them aware of how incessant tomfoolery can lead to the downfall and unhappiness of their team members. How does this work? 

man with red clown nose and yellow tie

Usually, the joker in the group will purposefully change the message for the fun of it. If it happens once, it can be funny, but if it happens consistently, it can make the team aware of where the issue is coming from. 

Team members should be encouraged to communicate how they feel about each round where the message is misconstrued which can help the offending joker realize their role in upsetting their colleagues. 

11. Great way to get team members to set differences aside and just have fun.

Team building is not always about lessons. Sometimes it is also about encouraging team members to be a little less serious and focus on having fun together. Chinese Whispers provides the perfect opportunity for this as it is a low-key game that can have everyone laughing. Sometimes a bit of fun can give a team the boost that they need.

In closing

Who knew that a simple game such as Chinese Whispers could be so effective as a team-building exercise! 

Playing the Telephone Game as a team-building exercise can be highly beneficial to the team and the business as a whole. The team members will certainly leave with a lot of food for thought. How the game pans out and how each player interprets it is important, so make an effort to hold a discussion on the day and the activities before you get back to real life and real work once more.

JC Franco

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.