Please Don’t Break the Ice

Please Don’t Break the Ice

Tell something unusual or memorable about yourself. What’s your favorite color? If you were stranded on an island with just one thing, what would it be? Would you rather drink sour milk or eat rancid meat?

Ice breakers. I think the only people who like them are seminar coordinators and orientation leaders, and that’s only because they’ll fill up time in a required day-long meeting. I’m pretty sure the intention isn’t to make people uncomfortable, but it’s an all too frequent side effect. I’m dying to know if said coordinators and leaders mind participating, or if they feel our pain.

The other day I was in a meeting, and upon glancing ahead at the agenda, snuggled right between the morning break and lunch, I saw it. The dreaded and still unnamed “Get-To-Know-You” activity. Crap. Really, just the thought gave me butterflies. I can fake it, but I’m a little shy when meeting new people. Small talk is awful. The awkward silence following small talk is the worst. Usually there’s a bunch of hand shaking, too. Based on the number of sweaty hands, I wasn’t the only nervous one in the room.

We played Get to Know You Bingo. The squares were labeled with things like “I have three dogs,” “I love the mountains” and “I’m not a morning person.” We had to approach everyone and ask on which square their name belonged and write it in. I didn’t see an “I hate ice breakers square.” It’s too bad, because I would’ve been all over that. We had to be reminded not to hurry the game along by cheating. If such a disclaimer is necessary, that might be red flag. People will cheat to get ice breakers over with because they don’t like them.

In all honesty, everyone in this meeting was very friendly. We were running a bit behind, so the organizers imposed a time limit. Bingo was short-lived. Darn. The whistle blew after just a few minutes. It wasn’t so bad after all. Time for lunch!

You know the most interesting part of it all? Ice breakers work. In spite of the painful process, the room felt more familiar after it was all over. We chatted while we ate. People remembered the interesting things about one another and colors, nodding with familiarity when any were mentioned in the lecture. Although I won’t likely interact with anyone in that class again, we all wished each other luck in future endeavors. Okay, ice breakers. You win.

I played many instruments growing up, including piano, violin, flute, clarinet and French horn. My friend Ashley taught me how to play the clarinet on Friday nights while we watched Full House and 20/20 (nerds). I learned the flute for “fun” in my spare time. I love just about anything orange. I’d bring my family. You said one thing. That’s one unit, and one I’d rather not live without. Neither. That’s disgusting. I’ll take wine, thanks. Cheers!

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