Tearing Paper


Time: 5 minutes

Materials needed: 8 ½-X-11-inch sheets of paper for each participant

Concept: The importance of two-way communication


Provide each participant with a sheet of 8 ½-X-11-inch paper.  Each participant must close their eyes and follow the step-by-step instructions you provide.  They are not permitted to ask any questions of you or anyone else.  You will be following the instructions as well.

 Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Fold your sheet of paper in half.

  2. Tear off the upper right-hand corner.

  3. Fold your sheet in half again and tear off the upper left hand corner.

  4. Fold your sheet in half again and tear off the lower right-hand corner.

  5. Once the participants have completed all of the instructions, have them open their eyes and tell them that their sheet of paper should look identical to yours and each other.


As the  group is observing the differences, ask why the sheets do not look the same despite everyone receiving the same instructions.  You  may receive responses such as “We weren’t able to ask questions” or “Your directions could be interpreted differently.”  Ask how did they feel performing the exercise and not being able to ask questions.


This simple exercise is pretty fun and provides an eye-opening experience for the participants.  It easily illustrates the importance of two-way communication which includes the need to be clear, concise, and allowing others to ask questions to ensure understanding.

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