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Insider–Outsider
DonnaStringer,ExecutiveDiversityServices,Inc.
Seattle,Washington,USA
Purpose
To help participants understand the following:
We all experience being both an “insider” and an “outsider.”
Insider feelings and behaviors tend to be positive and lead to good teamwork. (Exception:
Insiders can become bored because they are too much like everyone else.)
Outsider feelings and behaviors tend to be more negative and tend to interfere with team-
work. (Exception: Outsiders can feel unique or special—especially if they and others
value their differences.)
We don’t have to be, look, or act alike in order to feel included.
Using empathy—remembering how we felt as an outsider—can make us more effective in
helping someone who feels like an outsider to start feeling included.
Targetaudience
This activity targets most groups addressing intercultural and diversity issues. It is particu-
larly useful for groups that are beginning to work together or that are experiencing insider–
outsider stress because of reorganization, merging, etc. This activity has been used with up to
30 participants, but could probably work with larger groups.
Time
30 to 60 minutes, depending on the time allowed for identifying specific actions that create
insider feelings
Materials
Two flipcharts and markers
Procedure
Prepare two flipcharts. Label one “Different” and the other “Similar.” Draw a vertical line
down the middle of each. Label the left side “Feelings” and the right side “Behaviors.”
50ActivitiesforAchievingCulturalCompetency
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You say and do
We are going to do an exercise that will help us experience what it feels like
to be both an outsider and an insider. I want you to begin by thinking of a
time when you were in a team or a group and you felt different from others in
the group. (Pause) Now, think of a word that describes how you felt at that
time. (Pause) In a minute, I am going to ask you to get up and walk around
the room, introducing yourself to as many people as possible, using that
word. (Alternatively, if you are short on time: In a minute, I am going to ask
you to turn to your neighbors and introduce yourself using that word.) For
example, I might say to you (walk up to someone in the classroom and shake
their hand) “Hi! I’m awkward.” Okay, you may now get up (turn to your
neighbors) and introduce yourself.
You do
Give people about 60 seconds to move around and introduce themselves, or
to turn to their neighbors and introduce themselves. After 60 seconds, ask
them to return to their seats or return their attention to you.
You say
Okay, whom did you meet? Call out the words you heard.
You do
As people call out the words, record them in the “Feeling” column of the
“Different” flipchart. Note: If you have a training partner, he or she can do
the recording so that you can attend to the participants and what they are
saying. When they seem to be out of words, move to the next step.
You say
Now I want you to think of a time when you were in a team or group and felt
similar to others. Identify a word that describes how you felt at that time.
This time, without getting up or introducing yourselves to others, simply call
out the words that come to your mind.
You do
Record (or have your partner record) the words you hear on the left side of
the “Similar” chart. When participants appear to be out of words, return to
the first chart.
You say and do
Let’s go back to the “Different” page. When you felt like you were different
and felt like these words (quickly read through the list of feelings on the
“Different” chart), how did you act? What did you do? Call them out. (You
or your partner should record these words in the “Behavior” column of the
“Different” chart.)
That’s quite a list of words. Let’s label this chart “Outsiders.” (Write
“Outsider” at the top of the chart near the “Different” title.)

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