I am not a big fan of ice breaker questions.
There. I said it.
I don’t like the ones where you have to collect signatures aka People Bingo. Note: Giving the ice breaker a fun game name doesn’t make it more appealing. We’ve all done it before. We know what’s going on here. (Quick! Do you speak more than one language? Have you been to all 50 states? Do you own more than three cats? Have you ever gone more than three days without taking a shower?) All this ice breaker tells me is who the competitive people are in the room. They may not know the first name of a single person there, but by golly they were the first ones to get all their squares signed. Plus, how better to get acquainted than to stereotype people within the first hour of meeting them?:
“Did you meet the nerd who has seen every episode of Star Trek?”
“Was he married to the cat lady?”
“No, you’re thinking of the stinky guy who doesn’t shower.”
I’m not fond of ice breaker questions either. I liked them more in my young and single days when I had extra real estate in my brain to think about other things. These days I’m more concerned about whether or not I remembered to turn off the stove than whether I would rather have an extra finger or a missing toe.
Because God has a sense of humor, He has blessed me with children who prefer a world where every question is an ice breaker question. This morning, I barely had my eyes all the way open when my youngest son needed to know if I could be any animal, which one I would be. Truth is, I’m rather glad I’m not an animal. I don’t want to be any of the animals. This, however, is not an acceptable answer at my house. A decision must be made. Apparently life as we know it hinges on my answer.
Later today, my daughter wanted to know my favorite letter. Truth is, I don’t have a favorite letter. I told her this and added I felt like it was unfair to the other letters to show any sort of favoritism. I could tell by the disgusted look on her face I had chosen poorly.
I think my issue with ice breaker questions is I tend to overthink them. I don’t want to just throw out the first answer to pop in my head. I want to analyze my choices as if I one day I really may be held accountable for my answer to the question of whether I’d rather be able to read minds or fly.
My friend Heather reminded me of another ice breaker game I don’t particularly enjoy. She hates when you are asked to tell two truths and a lie and everyone is supposed to guess which is which. Although I guess knowing who you can’t trust is useful information to know in a new group. Beware of people who are really good at this ice breaker game.
Ice breakers are on my mind because I’ve had to be part of an online training this week. Today was day three of five and so far we’ve started each session with an ice breaker question. The first day was easy enough. All we had to do was “tell the group a little bit about ourselves.” I have that information memorized, so I usually have that ready at all times. Yesterday, our instructor wanted to know whether we would classify ourselves as stiletto or flip flop girls. That was easy. Anyone who has seen me attempt to walk in anything higher than a thick sandal can testify I am a flip flop girl whether I want to be one or not. Actually, I prefer Orthaheels, but that’s another story for another day.
I don’t know why, but I wasn’t really expecting an ice breaker question today. I figured for the purposes of our little group, the ice was sufficiently broken. We’re all in different parts of the country and have no plans to get together after this mandatory training is complete. Besides, no one has ever answered an ice breaker question in such a way to make me feel like a real connection was made or I could be lifelong friends on the basis of his or her answer. But guess what? We must be thicker than the Titanic’s iceberg because our ice breaker question for today was:
“If you could be any cartoon character, who would you be?”
Granted, I’m tired. I haven’t been sleeping well and I have been nursing a headache all week. I’m not at my best, so when she asked this seemingly harmless question, something inside me broke and it wasn’t the ice. I knew the instructor would ask me first because she always goes in alphabetical order. I thought about just throwing out a random cartoon character name but I knew she’d ask me to justify my answer, so I broke one of the cardinal ice breaker rules. I gave no answer.
“I have no idea, Gina. Sorry, but I have nothing. Can’t think of a single cartoon character I would be like.”
The silence that followed was uncomfortable. I felt guilty for not playing along. None of this was Gina the Instructor’s fault. I’m sure the ice breaker questions were mandated by a higher authority than she. But I just couldn’t answer one more question today.
The rest of our class went smoothly and no one seemed to hold my lack of ice breaking skill against me. But tomorrow, I want to be ready. I’ve been googling ice breaker questions and I’m trying to be prepared for any question Gina the Instructor throws my way. So help a sister out. Throw me all your favorite (and feel free to use that word ironically or sarcastically) ice breaker questions. I want to make my class proud tomorrow. Ready? Go!