A Fool-Proof Ice Breaker Question
Have you ever sat at a table where no one really knows anyone else and the conversation was not just slow, it was completely dead? Or perhaps you've been in a meeting with a group of relative strangers and you're supposed to "work together" to solve a problem. Maybe you've joined a club or community group and the first meeting is profoundly awkward. What do you do?
Do you try and blend into the background, or do you fill in the silence with chatter? Do you have a strategy for how to deal with those moments, or do you wing it?
Billy and I have hosted lots of small groups and in almost every case we've had to draw people out of their uncomfortable silences into a group discussion. Whatever your situation, if you need a fool-proof way to break through, start your conversations with a fun, non-threatening question.
Naming favorite foods, restaurants, or movies is a standard type of question, but if you REALLY want to get the chatter going, ask this:
If someone followed you around for a week and made a report of any "unusual" behavior, what behavior would they report?
At first, the table and/or room will become more quiet as they mumble and claim not to have any distinctive habits. This is when you need to step up and give them an example.
My husband pumps his gas in even numbers. I cite this as "odd" behavior. The fact that I am not compulsive about even numbers is something he cites as odd.
For the record, lots of people have unusual behaviors around numbers.
I've stopped telling people that I don't enjoy drinking water because this leads to long lectures about health, hydration, and the quality of my skin. I can't help that water tastes like dirty feet to me, so I just take a sip of tea and let Billy explain why he likes sugar in his grits (thanks to his dad's habit).
I thought every person with long hair would use binder clips in a jam. Alas, this is not the case. Billy puts things inside of things until maximum consolidation occurs. So the napkin from lunch, the orange peel and the wrapper from a soda all end up in the same bottle. Doesn't seem unusual the first time, but EVERY time?!
This game only works if you don't judge, so I won't start now... (but still!!)
Just Plain Odd
Billy and I don't have sides of the bed. Some nights I sleep on the left side of the bed. Sometimes I sleep on the right.
There it is.
This example still doesn't seem odd to me, which is the point of the conversation, but I have yet to have any group not bond over this answer (usually united in disbelief).
When you pose this question to a group you'll discover commonalities, quirks, and have a lot of laughs in the process. Try it out for yourself the next time you're living in planet awkward!
In the meantime, please share with me what the report on YOU would say!