Icebreakers Can Ease Social Anxiety, Engage Your Teams

September 21, 2022 | 2426 Views

Icebreakers Can Ease Social Anxiety, Engage Your Teams

Kim Carson, SHRM-SCP

Training Manager | Rosen Hotels & Resorts

This article first appeard in the September 2022 issue of Hotel Management Magazine

Do you think icebreakers are optional, corny activities? Think again! Icebreakers are an underutilized tool, yet are so valuable to defeat social anxiety, warm up the group, and get everyone connected and engaged.

To work successfully together, we need to know more than what is on a person’s business card. A simple icebreaker can go a long way to take away communication barriers and engage the team. Tangible benefits include:

Here are a few of my go-to icebreakers that work every time:

1. Beachball conversation

Write interesting questions on each colorful quadrant. You throw it to a person, they catch it, and wherever their thumb lands is the question they answer. You can theme the questions, write in different languages, put questions about the menu and much more.

2. Favorite song and artist match-up

Partners share this, and then each introduces the other to the group.

3. Virtual photos

If this is a virtual meeting, have people share their most embarrassing or favorite photo on the screen and explain the story behind it.

4. Mental wellness check

To create an ongoing safe environment, ask a one-word pulse check through a Poll Everywhere word cloud. You can do a variation of this in the middle of the training on something topic-related if you are not sure everyone is “getting it.”

Icebreakers don’t have to be related to answering questions. They can be this simple:

5. Dance-off

Ask for volunteers that come up front and play some fun music. Get people to move and break up the same old boring meeting.

6. Meeting beat box

One person starts making a noise and then have everyone go around and add a noise to it. This one helps loosen up the stiffness in the room.

7. F&B break

We are hospitality people! Consider theming a fun food and drink break so that natural conversation can happen.

In today’s world, there are increasingly teams who have never met each other in person. There are also people who are experiencing social anxiety around how to act in a professional setting. I encourage you to reconsider every opportunity you have to add this interaction in your meetings or trainings.

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Comments (1)

  1. Kelly:
    Sep 22, 2022 at 02:37 PM

    Love these, Kim! Thank you for sharing. :) At every opening, we used to (painstakingly) blow up our beachball ice breakers