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Leading, Communicating, and Trust

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Learning Objectives

As a result of participating in this activity, learners will:

  1. Experiment with language and strategies that help engender trust between two team members.
  2. Devise a strategy to clearly communicate ideas and directions to someone who does not have shared experiences.
  3. Support a fellow team member during risk and hardship.


  1. Assemble learners into pairs. If possible, match pairs already working together within a team to improve overall collaborative skills.
  2. Learners stand on one end of a space with their partner. A single bandana or other blindfold is given to each person. One person will lead. The other person covers their eyes with the blindfold so that they cannot see.
  3. After the blindfolds are in place, create obstacles within the room (moving furniture or using objects such as cones, balls, boxes, etc.) Be mindful of safety issues.
  4. In the first round, leaders may not speak to their partners.  After negotiating about how and where touch may occur, the sighted person leads the blindfolded person by gently touching them to provide directions to guide them through the obstacles to the opposite side of the space. Debrief, and change the roles of the partners, with a new person wearing the blindfold. In round two, rearrange the obstacles before beginning. Leaders may speak to their partners, giving them both directions and encouragement, but may not touch them. The person wearing the blindfold may ask questions. The goal is to return to the original starting point. Debrief. In a third round, partners may negotiate who will be blindfolded and who will lead. Once again, rearrange the obstacles. This time, leaders may only say the words “yes” or “no”, but not provide any further information. The goal to reach the opposite side of the space remains the same. Those wearing the blindfold may ask questions about how to proceed to get to the opposite side of the space.


This can be done with either a small, medium or large group of volunteers as a demonstration for the class.  The advantage of the small group is simply that you can more easily stop the action to discuss what's going on, as there would be less chaos and movement than if you do the entire group at one time.


Small Group, Medium Group


Minimal Equipment - Blindfolds, one per participant


One Hour



Leading and Being Led

Putting our trust in someone else to protect us and our interests can be challenging, particularly if that person communicates to us only minimally.

Debrief Questions

Round One:

  1. Leader: What was your experience with having limited options for communication? How did you adjust to those limitations?
  2. Blindfolded member: With limited communication, how trustful did you feel about the leadership? What, if anything, could have been done differently to gain your trust?

Clinical Application

  1. How is being blindfolded like being a patient in a healthcare setting?
  2. How are patients limited in their communications to providers?
  3. How do providers limit their communications with patients?
  4. How can we, as providers, gain the trust of our patients?

Bloom's Taxonomy


TeamSTEPPS domain


IPEC Competency

VE 6,7
RR 1,6
CC 1,2


Sharing Information

In teams, open and transparent communication facilitates the successful completion of a task. When one can check back for understanding, trust can be built quickly.

Debrief Questions

Round Two:

  1. Compare this experience to the first round in terms of the amount of time it took to complete the task.
  2. Compare this experience to the first round in terms of what you think may help build a trusting relationship.
  3. What specific behaviors from leaders create this kind of communication?

Clinical Application

  1. Provide an example of a patient care scenario when a patient did not get complete information.
  2. How can we facilitate open and transparent communication with our patients?
  3. How can we check back for understanding by the patient? How can we insure we understand them?

Bloom's Taxonomy


TeamSTEPPS domain

Mutual Support

IPEC Competency

VE 3,6 & 7
RR 1,6
CC 1, 2 & 5
TT 7


Leadership by Questions

Some leaders attempt to stand back and let team members operate on their own, checking in whenever they require help. For some, this can lead to a sense of empowerment and trust. For others, however, they may experience uncertainty or anxiety.


While some communication is broad and applies to a group or team, there are times when communication must be intimately connected to the situation and the individual involved. Building trust is essential.


For more information about how to utilize games, low-fidelity simulation, and interactive learning to teach concepts of teamwork and collaboration, contact

Related Tags

blindfolds, communication, feedback, inexpensive, leadership, low barrier, low resource, mutual support, patient experience, risk, situation monitoring, trust walk