You’ve probably sat through some brutal icebreaker sessions. Whether it’s at work, a community event, or any other time you’re getting to know new people, icebreaker questions are a standard. Despite the good intentions, they often come off as uninspired and do little to get people communicating. This is largely due to poor execution.
This how asking the right icebreakers can build team chemistry.
People Open Up When Talking About Their Passions
Icebreakers are meant to get people acclimated with people they don’t know in a situation where they might be uncomfortable. It’s normal to feel awkward in these circumstances. Maybe you’ve experienced an icebreaker session where you just wanted it to be over. The questions probably only got abbreviated responses from you and everyone else there.
Chances are, however, there’s something else that can make you talk for days. People tend to be more open when they can freely share the things that make them individuals. Fostering this type deeper, more honest communication around what we care about helps groups build trust. These questions also lead to answers that necessitate follow-up questions. This kind of dialogue is much more effective for real icebreaking than just rushing through one- or two-word responses from everyone.
- “Where would you go if you could be anywhere right now?”
- “What things bring you the most joy in life?”
- “What has inspired you recently?”
Help People Understand Themselves
Good icebreakers facilitate dialogue between group members. Great icebreakers help individuals understand themselves in a new way!
It’s likely some people aren’t sure as to why they’re in this place, doing these icebreakers with unfamiliar people. That doesn’t mean they don’t belong there. Everyone deserves an opportunity for self-reflection. Doing this can drastically change how you perceive your underlying intentions and goals. This practice, however, doesn’t come naturally to all people.
- “What motivated you to be here versus somewhere else?”
- “What’s your top goal in life?”
- “How do you think being here can help bring you closer to that goal?”
Individuals Learn Where They Fit into the Group
No two people are the same. Every team and group of people is going to be full of complementary and contrasting dynamics based on its members.
It’s smart to create icebreaker questions that help individuals understand how they fit into the group. This is made much easier when you can get people to provide totally honest feedback through anonymous polling. Poll Everywhere is a tool that allows you to create anonymous surveys that can be accessed right from participants’ smartphones. Seeing how their answers compare to the group will give everyone a better feel for group dynamics, as well as how they’re going to fit into it.
- “How would you rate your expertise in this subject?”
- “How many years of experience do you have doing this?”
- “What are your top strengths and weaknesses?”
Laughter Helps People Let Down Their Guard
Most people have experienced the joy of unrestrained laughter. It’s one of the purest senses of happiness. This is heightened when the laughter is shared with multiple people.
When people laugh together, it tells the brain everyone agrees on something. This means that those other people also view the world in an overlapping way. Getting people to laugh in icebreakers will build trust and closeness, while also breaking down the walls people put up around those they don’t know well.
It’s important to note, however, not all kinds of laughter are good. For instance, you don’t want to create a situation that singles someone out to make the group laugh. They might not feel comfortable with this and can then withdraw from the future engagement. You also don’t want to use humor that some people might find inappropriate. This often leads to creating divides in the group, when you want to be strengthening bonds.
- “What’s the most embarrassing song on one of your playlists?”
- “What’s something silly you do when you’re alone?”
- “Who do you think is your celebrity lookalike?”
Icebreakers have gotten a bad rap with people. That’s only because they’re so often done in a mundane, pointless way. Consider how you can engage people and bring them closer with better icebreaker questions.