Shared experiences are important for many reasons.
Most apparent is the value of just being with people in the moment: having conversations, hearing the jokes, staying up-to-date on each other’s lives, and so on. Whether in person or virtual, planned or spontaneous, social or professional, synchronous time spent with others helps us get to know people better.
But there’s a subtler reason why shared experiences are invaluable: they become shared memories. The value of shared experiences lasts well beyond the moments in which they happen. We use memories as reference points all the time. They are like our own personal database connecting various people and events in our lives. For example:
An inside joke with friends that you refer back to (and still find funny years later) served to reinforce old friendships.
A reminder to ourselves to slow down when walking across an icy intersection, so you don’t fall in the same spot the last time it snowed.
Shared experiences are also incredibly powerful for strengthening team culture at work. The collective reference points serve as lessons learned, and teams can remember back to past successes and failures to make better decisions. For example, one really disastrous meeting might lead to a total overhaul of how team meetings are structured. For everyone who was there, that one terrible meeting will be referred to over and over as an incentive to change and a reminder of why the process changed.
Shared experiences also give us shortcuts for future communication. For example, imagine a sales team is pitching a new client, Acme Investment Inc., and decides to switch up their usual strategy and try something totally new. They may then refer to the Acme Incident as a shorthand for trying a new strategy or making a bold decision.
At Barometer XP, we believe games are a great way to create meaningful shared experiences and reference points.
Because games are fun, they create moments of shared joy and laughter, which lead to inside jokes.
Because games involve skill and problem solving, you get to see how different people approach challenges and identify ways to draw on those strengths and capabilities back in the word context.
Because games are played by multiple people at the same time, everyone sees the same events and can point to examples of individual behavior or collective actions as pointers for what to do (or not to do) in higher-stakes work situations.