The leader’s request made everyone in the room tense. We were 20 strangers, at the start of a weekend retreat.
"Tell us something," the leader said, "that you don't want us to know about you."
The person next to me muttered, "Why would I ever do that?"
I was tempted to jump in. "I was the worst person," I could confess, "on my high school tennis team."
This was technically true. I was #12. And I'm not even sure there were 11 other players. But that's not what the leader wanted. So I stayed silent, as did others.
Let's talk about ice-breakers.
Most groups—even two-person ones, like you and your next-door neighbor—go through predictable stages of development.
The beginning stage feels like a bad first date—people act polite and reasonable, while inwardly feeling, "Get-me-out-of-here."
The leader's job is to get you out of that stage before you get stuck there.
Ice-breakers can help—or backfire.
As the leader, you want people to reveal something important, without risking too much. I call this the Reveal/Risk ratio; the higher the ratio, the better.
Let's critique a few openers:
1) "What name would you like if you couldn't have yours?"
Critique: low Reveal, low Risk. Everyone speaks (that's good), but no one says anything significant (that’s bad).Page 1 of 3 | Next Page