There are a number of practices we can learn and use as facilitators that can help us and the groups we are facilitating work more productively together. For example, when you were doing the exercise at the beginning of the morning you were finding ways that you and others in the room were similar. As human beings, we are often searching for some affinity with others. This seems to be instinctive for most people. We call this listening for common ground.
You may try to find someone else who has cats, grew up on a farm, lived in Maine, or was a teacher at one time. These are all ways of finding common ground.