Breaking a sweat around the room


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I’ve found my self in this situation more times than I care to remember.

Picture this, you’re in a classroom, or a meeting room, or a conference room and the lead/organiser/teacher decides to play that ever so freaking awesome game of ‘breaking the ice’. Yes, that’s right, the one where you are expected to say something ‘fun’ or ‘unique’ about yourself so that a whole room of people you just met will get to know you better. There are always the eager beavers who go into their whole life story hoping to pick up some Facebook fiends. Then there are those who make it really awkward for themselves and the lead by saying “I have nothing” and stare back awkwardly. The lead then pushes for it, “C’mon you must have something, anything will do”. But then they say “No I really have nothing”. The whole room just fills up with awkward twitches… Then there is me, who does not enjoy this at all.  I rather prefer to slowly orientate myself. I am not so adverse to it to the point of having some kind of panic attack, but nevertheless, I dislike it. So I thought I would share the top 3 types of thoughts that go through my head when I need to participate in this slippery ‘fun fact’ exercise

  • I generally get caught off guard, so the first few minutes I am racking my brains to think of something to say. it can’t be too ridiculous or too boring, but for some reason every thought/idea that comes to my head fall into either one of those categories. I dream for that day when I blurt out that perfect fun fact and in return the room just stares back at me in awe and amazement and then blazes into a fit of applause and hysteria.
  • I hope for the ‘Tolstoys’ of the room to keep carrying on. The longer they carry on about their lives from birth till their 38th birthday celebrations last week, the more time it takes up. This way we might run out of time and the rest of us would be spared.
  • I hope that no one else steals my interesting fact. What do you do when that happens? You already sifted through a lot to come up with it, and then the person before you just happened to have the same experience as you did. Panic! In this situation, it is best not to blurt out the first thing which comes to your mind – because panic and first thing to come out of your mouth usually results in words to the effect of: “My dog eats it’s own poo”…which will then be followed thereafter by those aforementioned awkward stares and silence. You have not just broken the ice, you have ploughed right through it with devastating effect…

So, if you are like me and spend most of your time thinking about what to say, do you really pay attention to what anyone else says? Has the exercise really done what it was supposed to? Do you now know everyone’s name and something about them?

I haven’t always been in these kind of unproductive ice breakers. Some of the ones I have participated in have been far more engaging and more collaborative, which I find more relaxing and more effective. I find that you interact more as opposed to when you are sitting in a circle in a room speaking one at a time. What do you think?

Also, I would like to think I am not alone in this. Who else has this strange paranoia?

Submitted to the Daily Post

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12 thoughts on “Breaking a sweat around the room

  1. Uh, yeah. Totally hate this. I’ve even had to endure this with people I’ve known for quite some time. We had a guest speaker in class who made us think of something not only interesting, but something that the people I had already spent two years with wouldn’t already know. Seriously? After two years, I’ve used all my good material. Or at least the stuff I’m willing to admit.

    And yes, the whole time I’m trying to think of something witty to say and in the end I know nothing about these people I’m supposed to be getting to know.

    • I know, I really don’t see the point when they are people you have already spent time with. I really think that a more ‘involved’ exercise will always get people engaged in a deeper way.

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  4. Been there far too many times. It’s like “What do you do for a living?” is supposed to define you as well. Horse turds. Be yourself and wonder what lives do they really live. I wonder how many people in the world are really named Sherlock?

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