Lesson 4.8

Using Inclusive Rituals To Unite A Diverse Group

Key Concepts:


One of the best ways to unite a group of different people is by creating and practicing group rituals. You can think of rituals as just optional traditions that don’t exclude anyone in your own group.

  • Since the beginning of civilization, rituals have helped bring groups of people together.

  • Rituals are psychologically powerful. Repeatedly going through a motion or exercise as a group helps us feel comfortable, safe, and special at the same time.

  • Rituals don’t have to be spiritual or symbolic to work—though symbolism and repetition together are a powerful combination for memory as well.

  • The predictability of rituals helps ease anxiety—whether we’re talking about personal rituals or group activities. That’s because even simple rituals rituals give us a sense of psychological control.

Rituals are everywhere in life, once you look for them:

  • Holidays are rituals.

  • Meetings are rituals (albeit, usually bad ones).

  • Meals are rituals.

  • Morning and evening routines are rituals.

  • And so on.

For a ritual to be effective in uniting a group, it ought to…

  • be as unique to the group as you can make it, even if just in the details;

  • take everyone in the group into consideration;

  • happen over and over again; and

  • have predictability.

Even simple rituals can be powerful for making a group of people feel united.

  • Here are some examples of real office rituals you may have encountered:

    • Made-up vocabulary that team members use only with each other

    • A 3-minute morning stand-up meeting or speech every Monday that always starts the same way

    • A group stretching exercise at the start of meetings

    • That thing from little league where everyone puts their hands in the middle together and shouts something at the same time

    • Taking attendance for meetings in a fun way every time

    • Celebrating obscure holidays as an excuse to share food (Taco Tuesday or World Ice Cream Day)

    • Hosting a regular, low-stakes talent show for new team members (every batch of new people gets up in front of the company one by one and either tells a story or shares a unique talent)

    • Book club (on a regular schedule, everyone in the group reads the same book, then you order pizza and talk about it)

    • Thursday happy hour at the same place

    • Movie Monday

    • Board game night

    • Secret sack lunch club (Once a month bring in an interesting guest for lunch on Wednesday and ask them questions about their work or life while you eat your own sack lunches.)

    • The Excited/Worried Ritual (Every Friday during lunch, go around the table and each share one thing each of you is excited about and one thing you’re worried about.)

    • (You get the idea)

As you can see, there are unlimited possibilities, and rituals can range from simple and silly to structured and serious. The key is to do them consistently and to add little twists that make them uniquely yours.