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Understanding Your Identity in Collaboration

Photo by Drew Dizzy Graham on Unsplash

Exploring choices around sharing our identities

Dear collaborative discussion friends,

This week we are highlighting a fun activity that helps participants reflect on their identity. This activity encourages participants to think about which parts of their identity they usually bring to a collaborative space, which ones they choose not to, and what about a discussion or group influences their choices. Participants also reflect on which aspects of their identity they would ideally like to embody in such a space.

This activity is contributed by Shannon Wheatley Hartman, Vice President of the Interactivity Foundation, and is one of the many activities in the Introduction to Collaborative Discussion Module.

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This week’s activity:

Activity 1.4 – Understanding Your Identity in Collaboration

Exploring which parts of our identity we choose to share and hold back in discussions

This activity helps participants think about a complicated topic like identity through the playful idea of identity capsules. Participants explore which components of their identity they choose to express and withhold. They also look at their identities as a group and explore the possible connections and tensions. Participants are then encouraged to think about what characteristics of a particular discussion or group affects these choices and what could create a safe space where they feel comfortable expressing more of their identity.

Activity 1.4 – Understanding Your Identity in Collaboration

Individually Generate a List of Identity Capsule Items

Begin this activity by sharing the following prompt with participants:

“Imagine that you have the opportunity to live on another planet with an alien population. The interview process requires that you pack 5 items into a capsule that best represent you as a person. You decide which 5 aspects of your identity are most important and how you might represent them as objects in the capsule.”

Ask participants to silently reflect on this prompt and create a list of the items in their capsule.

Break into Small Groups or Pairs and Share Capsule Items

Invite participants to break into small groups (4-6 ppl) or pairs. Ask them to share the list of items in their capsule with each other and explain which facets of their identity each item represents. Have participants discuss:

  • Which of these components of their identity do they choose to share or hold back during a discussion?
  • Under what circumstances are different identity traits expressed the most and when are they withheld?

Debrief as a Full Group

Come back together as a full group. Invite participants to look at each person’s list of capsule items as one part of the group’s collection. Ask them to consider this collection as a whole and discuss:

  • Do these items work well together or complement one another? When might there be tensions between the characteristics or traits that these items represent?
  • How do we know which parts of our identity we want to put forth in a collaborative discussion and which parts to hold back? Under what circumstances do we feel safe to put forth more of ourselves?

In addition to these debriefing questions, the full description of Activity 1.4 Understanding Your Identity in Collaboration includes reflection questions and a practice journal prompt to help participants dive deeper.

Dive Deeper by Pairing Activities Together

This activity can act as a good segue into discussing best practices and group norms for collaboration. It can be paired with Activity 1.3 Anticipating Conflict and Forming Group Guidelines.

If you try out this activity, please share with us what you think:

Rate Activity 1.4

We hope this toolkit activity helps participants reflect on their identity and their choices to express or withhold certain identity traits, explore how they would like to present themselves in a group discussion, and what conditions create a safe space where they feel comfortable sharing more of their identity.

Upcoming Events

  • Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago is organizing Guanacaste 2023: The Transformational Listening Conference, from October 5 to October 7, 2023. We are excited to share that Dr. John G. Igwebuike, the founder of Guanacaste: The Lead Listening Institute, and one of our Collaborative Discussion Coaches, will be incorporating part of the Collaborative Discussion Toolkit in the conference this year. All are welcome! Learn more and register here.
  • The National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation 2023 will take place from October 13-15 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Interactivity Foundation, including the Collaborative Discussion Project, will be holding sessions during this event and we look forward to seeing you there. The cost to register is $580, with a discounted rate of $300 for students. All are welcome! Learn more and register here.
  • We are now accepting applications for our Collaborative Discussion Coach Training NCDD Pre-Conference Workshop. Space will be limited. It will take place on October 12th, 9 am – 3 pm at the conference hotel (lunch will be provided). Learn more here. Apply here or share this link with those who might be interested.
  • We are now accepting applications for our Pilot Coach Training for Undergraduate Students which will take place this fall. Space will be limited. The dates for this training have been updated. It will now begin on September 26, 2023. Visit our website to learn more and view the complete list of dates and times, which are also shown on the application. The application deadline has also been extended to September 10, 2023. All undergraduate students who are interested can apply here or you can share this link with students who might be interested.

Looking forward to collaborating,

Ritu Thomas & the Collaborative Discussion Team