Shift This Card Deck

Shift Conversations Into High Gear!

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The Shift This! Card Deck Game is an easy-to-play communication game that allows people to understand the value of asking questions in order to influence the tone and direction of a conversation, and to recognize what kinds of questions support conversations worth having. This experiential activity can be used to as an icebreaker to warm up a group that will be focusing on communication.


The Purpose of the game is to foster conversations worth having by asking questions that shift the tone and direction of negative interactions and problematic situations.

  • The game is fast moving, fun, generates laughter and a good deal of competition.
  • The cards can be used in a variety of ways in addition to the game itself.


There are 54 Situation Cards: These cards reflect routine workplace situations that typically trigger negative conversations and defensive behaviors. There are also some blank cards so the conversation starter can use a real and current situation. For example:

  • One of our staff members wants to know why someone else got the promotion instead of them.
  • Whenever there are sensitive issues, people ignore them. If I don’t bring it up, it doesn’t get discussed. When I do bring it up, I get labelled that bad or negative person, but these things need to be discussed.

There are 256 Question Cards: The questions on these cards offer options for how one might intervene use a question to turn the potentially negative conversation into one worth having. Some of the questions are definitely not generative; most are. And then there are some wonky questions that just might be the right question to ask. For example:

  • What benefits do you see in listening to new ideas?
  • What would be a better way for me to communicate this?
  • Anyone want pizza?

GAME PLAY (Think of Apples-to-Apples)

1. Each player draws five question cards.
2. The group chooses the Conversation Starter to go first.
3. The Conversation Starter draws a Shift This! card and reads it aloud.
4. All other players choose one of the question cards in their hand that they think the Conversation Starter will choose as the best question to shift the tone and direction of their Shift This! scenario into a conversation worth having.
5. Players put their question cards face down in a pile. The Conversation Starter shuffles the cards, so they don’t know whose card is whose.
6. The Conversation Starter reads the Shift This! card out loud again and then reads each of the question cards out loud.
7. The Conversation Starter chooses the question card they think is the best question to foster a conversation worth having in the given situation.
8. The player whose question card is chosen wins the Shift This! card.
9. The player to the left of Player 1 becomes the next Conversation Starter. Each person who played a question card draws another one.
10. The person with the greatest number of Shift This! cards wins.


  • People learn best through play: This is a fun and playful way to introduce people to communication training and realize they can address challenging situations in effective ways.
  • Supports people in shifting from conflict avoidance, to collaborative engagement.
  • Can be played independently or facilitated by a trainer.

Each card measures 2.5"x3.5"

Game intructions included

Shift This Card Deck

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