Imagine it’s your first day at your new workplace, and you are left to your own devices. There is no orientation program to attend, no introductions and no one to tell you how things work. In this situation, you are bound to feel a little lost. Now, if you had had an ice breaking session, you would be a lot more comfortable getting around and negotiating your new workplace.
Making formal introductions, engaging in fun activities or even getting to know your team are some of the things that icebreakers facilitate in organizations.
What Does It Mean To Break The Ice?
Breaking the ice makes you feel relaxed in a group of strangers. Icebreakers can help familiarize new employees with the organization, communicate with strangers or build trust among co-workers.
Every organization should try to implement regular icebreaker activities to encourage communication. These informal ice breaking sessions are a great way to get to know each other, ease tension and bridge gaps if any.
Let’s look at the importance of icebreakers, how they can aid in building relationships and add fun to the workplace.
Why Do Organizations Need Icebreakers?
Situations where you could implement icebreakers are employee training, learning and development workshops, and orientations. Whether you are meeting your colleagues for the first time or reacquainting yourself with your team, icebreaker activities are a great way to initiate discussions.
Here’s an example:
Say you are attending an orientation program at your new job. You have been paired with someone you have never met and asked to introduce yourselves. A bunch of questions has been provided to get the ball rolling.
Now, this is a guided ice breaking session where you know exactly what you are supposed to do. Otherwise, some people would probably just wait for the session to end without making any conversation.
Everyone’s not outgoing, friendly or sociable. Some people need a nudge from others to open up and talk about themselves. Icebreaker activities are ideal when you want to give everyone a chance to speak up.
Advantages Of Icebreakers
Icebreakers are team-building activities that facilitate discussion and bring everyone together. It’s a great way to strengthen team dynamics because everyone’s on the same page about what needs to be done.
Here are some key advantages of ice breaking sessions:
Encourages harmony among groups so that you feel like a part of the team
Builds trust and rapport that benefits future work relationships
Helps bridge identifiable gaps in teams, like different backgrounds, opinions and work styles
Helps organizations recognize unique strengths that employees bring to the table
Serves as an introduction to problem-solving
Facilitates interpersonal skills among employees as you may get to interact with people from different departments
Helps in goal-setting and developing ways to achieve these goals as a team with individual contribution
Deploying ice breakers is a fun way to promote teamwork and navigate team dynamics. Every organization wants to achieve collective goals with individual commitment and contribution. They also help improve communication skills, especially speaking skills.
Fun Icebreakers To Improve Communication
Communication skills are critical at the workplace where you have to deal with verbal and nonverbal communication every day. If you can learn to speak effectively, you can make significant progress in your career. Ice breakers can help you set the stage and initiate conversations with your team members.
Whether you have just joined the organization or have spent years working with your team members, ice breaking sessions can be a beneficial experience.
Here are some fun icebreaker games to engage with your co-workers:
An elevator pitch is essentially an interview where you have to describe yourself in under 30 seconds—just in time until the next floor. This is a fun way to introduce yourself to the group. You get to practice your public speaking skills and share important things about yourself. It provides others with a glimpse of who you are. It may even help you make connections with people who share common interests or are from the same background. You can use a memorable and impactful introduction to gel with your new team.
This is an informal way to test the waters in the context of problem-solving. The facilitator can share a simple problem or case study with the group. Then, everyone can work in smaller groups to find a viable solution. For example, you may be asked to participate in a simulation where you have to deal with an angry customer. How you pacify and communicate with them will determine your success. Not only will this tell you what to expect from the job, but also help build rapport with your group.
Word associations are an excellent way to get everyone to loosen up. The game starts with one word like ‘music’, followed by a related word and then another to form a chain. A word like ‘music’ could be followed by ‘genre’ or ‘rock’, which could then be linked to ‘earth’. These games can go in any direction, which makes them exciting. Sometimes word association games can run for days and weeks until someone stops them. But for an icebreaker session, you can probably have a time limit to make the game more stimulating.
Memory games can be played with words or actions. You can start with one word; the second person adds to that word; the third person repeats the first two words and then adds another. Every person has to remember the words spoken previously before adding another. It can be a challenging and enjoyable way to interact with your co-workers. An action memory game is all the more exciting. Say you act out ‘chicken’ and then the next person has to add to your action with ‘buffet’ or something else. Fun icebreakers like word games help new employees get acquainted with each other. For seasoned employees, these act as midweek pick-me-ups!
The ‘who’s who’ game helps you get introduced and acquainted with your team members, especially if you are meeting them for the first time. The first order of business is to set appropriate parameters for the game, which also fall within workplace boundaries. In this game, you can ask questions like “what color is their shirt?” and “are they wearing glasses?”. You can even add questions related to other games played earlier. For instance, maybe someone said they loved hiking and trekking. You can ask related questions to include what you have learned about your co-workers.
Try Not To Laugh Challenge
‘You Laugh, You Lose’ is a fun way to engage everyone and ease the pressure. This is where one person shares a joke or says something funny to make others laugh. If you laugh, you lose and the person who cracked the joke wins. Whoever laughs then goes next and has to say something funny, and so on. You can have a lot of fun with this game and it usually leaves everyone laughing and enjoying themselves. Breaking the ice becomes easier when everyone’s in high spirits and looking forward to how things will unfold.
Brainstorming is suitable for employees who’ve spent some time in the organization. These are informal idea-sharing meetings where you can ask questions, strategize and develop ways to achieve organizational goals. Brainstorming sessions lead to creative solutions to complex problems, constructive ideas and helpful ways to make progress. At the same time, you can develop your interpersonal and communication skills by engaging with your co-workers. Supplement your brainstorming sessions with visual aids like flow charts, images and videos to liven up the room.
You can come up with your own icebreaker games or use an ice breaking conversation to get to know your team. Icebreakers can help you navigate different types of organizational structures. For instance, if yours is a hierarchical organization, an activity like ‘volunteer for a day with the founder’ can help you break the ice.
The purpose of icebreaker games is to polish your speaking skills and build interpersonal relationships. Employees will enjoy the sessions as they won’t have to worry about work-related matters. Building relationships is equally, if not more, important than fulfilling your responsibilities. Comfortable and healthy work culture will help everyone settle in and keep them motivated to give their best to the organization.
Learn more about how to communicate at the workplace with Harappa Education’s Speaking Effectively course. Craft an impressive introduction, navigate meetings and put your best foot forward. Your speaking skills can help you identify new opportunities and leave a lasting impression on others.
Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics & skills related to the COMMUNICATE Habit such as What are Social Skills, the Importance of Interpersonal Skills & How to Improve Your Communication Skills to fine-tune your communication skills.
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