How do you typically break the ice in a group setting or gathering?
Ice breakers are absolutely awful. I hate them. Don’t ask me to do them. Don’t put me in a group of strangers and ask me to share a fun fact or talk about the weather. If I’m in a group setting, it’s usually a gathering of friends I already know and therefore have no ice to break.
Of course, there are times where I’m thrust into a group setting where I’m not familiar with everyone. Like work functions. Or moving between teams. In those situations, I’m never the one leading the ice breakers, though. I follow the lead of whoever is in charge of the meeting or function.
We had one a few months ago to meet a new program manager and introduce her to everyone who works on site. They had us go around the room and introduce ourselves, say how long we’ve worked for the company, what projects we currently support, and for a “fun” fact, we had to share what the last concert we went to was.
I’ll admit I did kind of like that one. I’m very musically inclined and it was neat to learn the music tastes of some of my coworkers. Some had been to shows I was envious of, others had been to see the same bands I’d seen back in the day, and most were bands/groups/show I was familiar with. Mine was Breaking Benjamin and Shinedown. I’d seen Shinedown in concert before, years ago, but Breaking Benjamin was pretty much the last band on my teenage concert bucket list that I hadn’t been able to see live because they were on hiatus for so long. That concert was at least 2 years ago now but I’m still giddy about it whenever I remember it.
As an introvert, small talk is not my strong suit, but I also get overanxious in new settings and tend to prattle on about anything and everything anyway. I’m a nervous gabber. I don’t necessarily make the opening remarks, but I will latch on to whatever the other person says first and probably talk too much in response. Heaven help you if you reveal a shared interest of mine.
I find talking about the weather to be trite and overdone, but it is cliché because it’s simple and innocuous and it works. How are you gonna get mad at someone for saying “wow it sure is starting to feel like spring, huh?” or “that storm yesterday was wild?” Sports are another easy ice breaker, but a little bit trickier if the person doesn’t follow any sports. Weather and football are my go-to’s when I have to make idle chit chat with someone to break the ice.
Mostly though I prefer to sit back and observe, let other people take the lead and gauge their reactions before I speak. Hopefully have a friend or coworker break the ice first and clear the channel for me. I joke that the only reason I have any friends at all is because some extrovert adopted me like a stray cat and then brought me into their circles and introduced me to other friends.
Once in a great while, I’ll try to channel one of my more outgoing characters. Kita loves meeting new people. She always knows the best things to say to get people talking and keep them engaged. I should try to be more like her in general. Not sure how I spawned her, but I’m glad I did.
So how about you? How do you like to break the ice? Do you glide over it smoothly or smash it with a hammer? How do your characters do it? Get to writing! I’ll see you tomorrow!
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