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Best Riddles for Team Building

Tom Wright  •  Updated Dec 12, 2021

Riddles for team building are terrific tasks to get everyone talking together and collaborating for a common goal that is fun and engaging. If you are looking for ways to form those team bonds, try including team building puzzles and see how effective they can be.

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Managing a team can be challenging if you have new members or a large group where not everyone is familiar with each other. Riddles for team building are terrific tasks to get everyone talking together and collaborating for a common goal that is fun and engaging. If you are looking for ways to form those team bonds, try including team building puzzles and see how effective they can be.

Why Should Team Building Exercises Use Riddles?

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There are many benefits to using team building exercises in many situations. For example, whether you are at work or with a volunteer group, having a group of people who can communicate effectively together can reach a common goal.

Working as a team enables all the members to take on different responsibilities and find their natural leadership roles. In addition, team building encourages everyone to use lateral-thinking and dynamic problem-solving skills to reach a shared objective.

Some benefits of team building exercises include:

  • Strengthening personal bonds
  • Building trust
  • Increasing productivity
  • Encourages communication
  • Invites creativity and learning
  • Improves morale and company culture
  • Fosters friendly competition
  • Enhances acceptance of diversity

Because of all these benefits, organizations are becoming more open to including team building activities with regular meetings and employee events. So, how do you ensure that your company sees these results from a team activity? First, be sure to incorporate team building brain teasers to get everyone talking and working together.

What Are Some Great Riddles for Team Building?

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Giving a team a fun task where they can collaborate to develop creative solutions to solve a problem is a sure way to encourage teamwork and communication. Finding practical team building puzzles to use is more than just having common riddles to solve. You want these tasks to be entertaining but challenging for everyone to contribute their thoughts and ideas.

Team Building Brain Teasers

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If you want to encourage your group to communicate and determine creative solutions to problems, you can give them a few of these riddles to try and see what answers they come up with together.

1. Using a Utilitarian Test

Many ethics classes use utilitarian tests to encourage discussions with students to analyze a philosophical concept and determine where each person stands regarding personal values. One of the popular tests is the Trolley Dilemma.

In the Trolley Dilemma, a train car is heading down the track towards five unsuspecting people that will inevitably kill them. Alternatively, there is a level that the team member can move to switch tracks so the train car will divert to a separate path where only one unsuspecting person is. The dilemma is choosing to do nothing and allow five people to perish or make a choice to divert the trolley car and kill one person.

While this utilitarian test does not have a definite answer, it will spark effective conversation among teammates about our moral and ethical choices when facing complex decisions.

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2. Inverted Card Game

A couple had to take shelter in a hotel because they could not proceed with their journey due to a lightning storm and severe weather. Wanting to pass the time, they started playing cards in their room. Suddenly there was a power surge, and the lights went off. The husband inverted the position of 15 cards in the deck of 52 cards and shuffled it.

Then, he asked his wife to divide the cards into two different piles that cannot be equal, but both should have an equal number of cards facing up. Unfortunately, there was no light source in the room for the wife to see the cards at all.

For some time, she thought about how to proceed, then divided the cards into two piles. To her husband’s astonishment, both card piles had an equal number of cards facing up. How did she do this?

Answer: The solution is simple. She took fifteen cards from the top and reversed them. This choice made another pile, producing two piles - one of 15 cards and the other 37 cards. This way, both of them will have the same number of inverted cards.

This mathematical explanation may help: Assume there were X inverted cards initially in the top 15 cards. Then the remaining 37 cards will hold 15-X inverted cards. Once she reverses the 15 cards on the top, the number of inverted cards will become 15-X, and then consequently, the number of inverted cards in both piles will become the same.

3. Find the Thief Riddle

A Japanese ship was slowly making its way through the Arabian Sea. After removing his Rolex watch and gold ring, the captain felt like taking a bath and went to the bathroom. When he returned from the bathroom, he found out that his valuables were gone.

He suspected five of the crew members. So he called them all in and asked each one what they were doing during the last 15 minutes. Their replies were:

The French Cook (with a butcher knife): I was preparing meat for cooking dinner in the fridge room.

The German Engineer (with some tools in hand): I was working on the generator engine.

The Bangladeshi seaman (empty-handed): I was on the mast correcting the flag, which was upside down by mistake.

The American Radio officer (with his headphones in hand): I was messaging that we will reach the port in the next two days, on Friday morning at 1100 hrs.

The Indian navigation officer (empty-handed): I was taking a nap before my night watch started.

Upon hearing all of them, the captain determined who the thief was. How did he do it? Who took the captain’s valuables?

Answer: The Bangladeshi seaman is the thief. The Japanese flag cannot be upside down as it looks the same both ways. Therefore, his response is false as he is trying to escape the situation.

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4. Fill In the Map Game

Give each team a copy of an empty world map without any identifying marks. Use a timer to see which team can fill in all of the countries in the world correctly in the least amount of time. This task will get everyone talking about their heritage, travels, or geographical knowledge while working effectively.

5. Seven Degrees of Separation Puzzle

Gather an extensive collection of random items which have no apparent connection to one another. They can include a set of car keys, a stapler, a stamp, or someone’s lunch. Write each object on a slip of paper and place it in a container. Then, have each team choose two slips of paper at random.

They must try to connect these two objects by some common ground within seven steps. This riddle challenges the group to use their creative thinking skills and look for links between items that may not have apparent connections.

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6. Team Building Brain Teaser Crossword Puzzles

Not everyone is excellent at solving crossword puzzles, but that does not mean that a team can work together to get the job done. Often, a group of people can pool their collective knowledge to solve tricky brain teaser crossword puzzles easier than alone.

You can select a crossword puzzle for everyone to finish and make copies of, so each group has the same one to solve. Many crossword puzzle books are available for purchase through local retailers, or you can download ones from many websites to challenge everyone at your next team event.

7. Rebus Brain Teaser Puzzles

Rebus puzzles test the brain by combining pictures and letters to form words or phrases, typically idioms or a popular message. These puzzles may use placement, size, color, arrangement, or quantity to get the point across.

You can try downloading some from the internet to hand out to your teams or have your groups create their own to challenge other teams. Both variations can inspire creativity and out-of-the-box thinking with team members.

Simple Team Building Puzzles and Riddles

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Next time your group is gathering, try offering them some simple team building puzzles and see which group can solve them first.

1. Brick Building: How many bricks does it take to complete a building made of brick?

It takes only one last brick to complete a building.

2. Shotgun Riddle: Dean Winchester shoots himself between his eyes using his shotgun at close range in the bathroom. The bullets and the gun are real and functional. After one minute, Dean walks out of the bathroom alive, and there are no traces of blood or injury. How is this possible?

Dean Winchester shot the reflection of himself in the bathroom mirror.

3. Homicide Puzzle: A homicide investigation team enters a crime scene where the body of an older man lies on the floor with blood coming out of his forehead. The victim is holding a gun, and there is a tape recorder lying on the floor by his side. One of the detectives picks up the recorder and pushes play.

It then plays a message, "I am tired of this life and have decided to rid myself of the worldly pains.” A gunshot sound follows the message. Why does the team start investigating a murder instead of suicide?

The dead man could not have rewound the cassette tape himself after the gunshot, so someone else must have killed him.

4. Talk Riddle: Can you talk without saying a word?

Yes, by using mobile chatting, texting, or using sign language.

5. What Am I Riddle: I can move very fast, but I do not have any legs or feet. You can sometimes hear me but not from my mouth. I can bring down a building, yet I am not a machine. What am I?

The Wind.

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6. Live or Die Riddle: I will live if I fall off a building, but I will perish if I fall into the water. How is this possible?

It is a piece of paper.

7. Hotel Stay Riddle: A man pushes his car to a hotel. He then pays the hotel owner money and proceeds to move his car away. Why does he do this?

The man is playing the Monopoly board game.

8. Numbers Riddle: How can you make the number six into an odd number?

Remove the letter S from the word SIX, and it leaves you with the Roman Numerals IX, meaning the number 9.

9. Fractions Riddle: What is 3/7 chicken, 2/3 cat, and 2/4 goat?


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10. Elevator Riddle: A woman lives on the 13th floor of her building. She takes the elevator down to the ground floor every morning to go to work. In the evening, when she comes home on a rainy day, or if other people are in the elevator, she goes directly to her apartment on the 13th floor. Otherwise, she will go to the 10th floor and walk up three flights of stairs to her apartment. What is the reason for this behavior?

The woman is incredibly short and can only reach the 13th-floor elevator button with an umbrella or if someone pushes it for her. Otherwise, she can only reach the 10th-floor button and has to walk the remaining floors.

11. Solve the Death Riddle: A man gets into an empty elevator moving down. He then presses the button for the ground floor. As soon as the elevator stops, he starts crying because his wife is now dead. How did he know this?

The man is leaving the hospital after visiting with his wife. Unfortunately, she is on an electric life support system. The elevator stopped due to a power outage. If there were an emergency backup generator functioning correctly, the elevator would have also been running. Because it stopped, it means that the life system support has stopped also.

The Takeaway

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Finding engaging ways for your team to communicate and work together is not difficult. Be sure to include entertaining and stimulating puzzles, riddles, and brain teasers to keep everyone guessing and invite some friendly competition. Try to ensure you choose ones that will peak their creativity and problem-solving skills as they collaborate for a solution.

Sometimes including small prizes or token treats can entice team members who may not usually participate to become more engaged when offered a tangible goal. Whether it is a free coffee from the cafe down the street or a box of donuts to share, everyone will feel more obliged to participate when the competition is light and fun.