There are instances where others are providing us ambiguous information, leading us to develop our own misinterpretations and misunderstandings, creating thus problematic situations. Specially, when working in a group environment, we might easily misinterpret relatively simple instructions that results in deviated outcomes.

The objective of this activity is to explore how ambiguous instructions are differently understood by each person, leading them to develop their own interpretations on the same information.

  • Ask for 5-10 volunteers from the group to come forward and stand facing the group.
  • Provide a square sheet of paper to each volunteer.
  • Below two rules should be given to them before proceeding to the next steps:
  • Volunteers must close their eyes during the exercise.
  • Volunteers may not ask any question.
  • Instruct the volunteers to fold their paper in half in any way they wish.
  • Then ask them to tear off the bottom right corner of the paper.
  • Tell them to fold the paper in half again and then to tear off the upper right-hand corner.
  • Tell them to fold the paper in half again and then to tear off the lower left-hand corner.
  • Instruct them to open their eyes and display the unfolded paper to each other and the audience.

Note: Square sheets are interesting, as participants could choose to fold horizontally or vertically, thus creating a rectangle/ square, or fold it diagonally (from corner to corner), thus creating a triangle.


In all likelihood, the sheets of papers will not look the same. Ask the following questions to begin the reflections:

  • How is it that the same instructions were differently understood by each person?
  • What words in the instructions could have been interpreted in different ways?
  • Optional: How could the provided information been clearer to reduce the ambiguity?
  • Optional: How can we encourage people to ask for clarification when they do not understand the information?
  • Can ambiguity in information create a space for misinformation and disinformation to generate?
  • How can the ambiguous information affect cooperation and team work?