Icebreakers Can Ease Social Anxiety, Engage Your Teams
September 21, 2022 | 2192 Views
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:
- They break up the monotony and provide a sense of community, which is especially important in meetings and trainings with franchisees and new hires.
- The personal interaction allows us to step out of our comfort zone and go deeper.
- The sharing provides empathy, warmth and understanding of others. We become more “human” and develop connections because we learn more about who people are at their core.
- They’re just plain fun! It’s a great way to engage reluctant participants.
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:
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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Love these, Kim! Thank you for sharing. :) At every opening, we used to (painstakingly) blow up our beachball ice breakers