International Communication Games

The genius of Barnga, the power of intercultural communication games.

Andrea MacMillanBlog, Featured Blogs

We use many different strategies here at Abbey Communication to highlight just how common misunderstandings are in international teams, and how an understanding of the issues at play in international communication can really help a team to work more efficiently. In this blog post Alex Morgan, director of Abbey Communication describes how Barnga, a simple yet powerful intercultural communication game, can be used within teams to great effect.
“Recently I’ve been reminded how brilliant the game Barnga is at creating a deeper understanding of intercultural, personality and linguistic issues in teams. The rules of Barnga can be easily found on the internet, but we use the excellent book by the originator, which includes translations of the rules in various languages. (The link can be found at the end of this blog).

I can’t tell you exactly how the game goes, as that would quite literally “give the game away”, so let’s focus on the basic process and excellent outcomes instead.

Barnga uses normal playing cards and A4 paper, so is a very inexpensive and accessible team game. It is great fun, creates a lot of laughs, and is high energy. It pulls out the best (and the worst!) of us in terms of team collaboration and competitive spirit.

“I was really surprised at people’s reactions during the game (including my own) it really highlighted the importance of clear communication and the problems that can arise very quickly if communication is misunderstood. It taught me a lot! I will certainly be able to implement what I learnt within my business” Andrea M- Recent participant at Abbey Communication.

In terms of outcomes, Barnga helps participants to:

• Notice differences in behavioural expectations, and link this to intercultural differences
• Notice personality differences and differences in what motivates us (e.g. collaboration versus competition)
• Find other ways to communicate other than speaking a common language
• Find positive ways to resolve differences and communication breakdowns
• Increases self-awareness regarding approaches to team-working and leadership

The other beauty of Barnga is that all that learning (and more!) takes place in a very short space of time, the game itself can be completed in about 30 minutes, and the debrief and feedback session can be completed within an hour. In that short time, the depth of learning is profound and long lasting.”

If you’d like us to run a Barnga session with your team, call us on +44 1666 825060 or email us

Find out more about Barnga here:

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