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Dealing with Difficult Participants

Field of application

Dealing with diversity

Resume / Brief description


Participants collect words, thoughts and behaviours of difficult participants on life-size paper silhouettes to gain new perspectives on their options for action.

Target group




Colleagues of the same company or work team

Colleagues working in intercultural contexts

Professionals of different area

Group Size

There is a minimum of 4 participants and a maximum of 30 participants for this activity. The ideal size is 8-20 participants.


The activity has the objective

  • To develop strategies for dealing with different categories of disruptive behaviour during interactive sessions.
  • To positively engage the participants concerned.





  • 20-30 sheets of flipchart paper
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • Masking tape
  • 1 marker
  • 20 sheets each of coloured and white A4 paper
  • 10 pin boards or space on the wall to hang up silhouettes



  • 25-45 minutes

Implementation - Guidelines





1.       Preparation


  • Create a paper silhouette for each difficult participant type with enough space to collect ideas and a short description of the participant type.
  • Create speech bubbles, hearts, and plus signs using the A4 paper.
  • Blank pieces of paper with the following questions:
    • What does he/she wish...? (beside the heart)
    • What does he/she say...? (stick it next to the speech bubble)
    • What does he/she think...? (stick next to the head)
    • What does he/she contribute...? (next to the plus sign)
    • What does he/she...? (stick into the body at the height of the hands).

2.       Process


  • Preparing the types (15-20 minutes)
    • Ask the group to remember situations with difficult participants and invite the participants to write on the silhouettes according to the questions.
  • Group division
    • Participants should assign themselves to the types with which they want to continue to work, per type at least 2 participants.
  • Processing of the types (15-20 minutes)
    • The teams discuss possibilities in dealing with the difficult participants and how to use their peculiarities productively for the group. The results are recorded on the flipchart.
  • Presentation of the results (3 minutes for each type)
    • The teams present the most important ideas in dealing with their types.

3.       Debriefing


  • Short feedback round on the results and on the most important findings.

Additional format/references


Thiagarajan, S. (2016). Interaktive Trainingsmethoden: Thiagis Aktivitäten für berufliches, interkulturelles und politisches Lernen in Gruppen (3. Auflage.). Schwalbach: Wochenschau Verlag.