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15 Ice Breakers That Instantly Connect You with Anyone at Work and Party

15 Ice Breakers That Instantly Connect You with Anyone at Work and Party

We’ve all faced being the “newbie” one time or another. New to school, new in college, new at work or even moving into a new neighborhood – or simply being a new face leading or moderating a session. Whilst we may be great talkers with our friends, introducing ourselves to new faces and basically trying to “belong” into a group can end up making most nervous.

We are afraid of saying the wrong thing and making really awful first impressions so more often than not we dither and feel awkward, especially if the group you want to have a conversation with seems tight knit. The solution: try some tested and trusted ice breakers.

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When Would You need Ice Breakers?

Think of all the situations you’ve ever been in when you were the one needing to introduce yourself to a group or just some new faces. It could have been at school or college, at work or in a gym, at a conference or a training session, at a meeting or even at the PTA meeting – standing in one corner and feeling awkward never helped, did it? But a smile and a witty opening often did – and so ice breakers come in handy anytime you want people to feel comfortable with you and listen to you, or have a conversation with you.

In large groups like meetings and training sessions, ice breakers help people engage with each other and get cracking [1]. Ice breakers are supposed to do multiple things:

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  • Thaw the ice: The ice is usually the fact that the people in the group (including you) haven’t met and interacted with each other.
  • Turn the participants into contributors: Be it a training session or just a conversation, ice breakers are meant to draw people out of their shells and contribute their bit to the interaction.
  • Create commonality and connection: Ice breakers should basically use a common factor that all the people in the group share – think of common things that could warm up the group and get them excited and involved, as a group.

15 Ice Breakers That Truly Thaw the Chill

Ice breakers can be categorized in various ways – suited to smaller groups or larger audiences, or ice breakers that are activity based, interest based, party based or simple introductory ones as well [2]. So now that you know the basics of icebreakers, let’s list out 15 tried, trusted and tested ice breakers that many public speakers and experts often use, as and when needed.

At Work: Introductory Ice Breakers For Sessions and Training

These are used when an oddball mix of a group comes together, and most are strangers to each other. Introductory ice breakers set the ball rolling, so as to speak and help shake off that awkward “I don’t know you from Adam” feeling..

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  • A Little Known Fact: Suitable for groups ranging from 10 to 20. In this introductory ice breaker, you ask each group member to list out their names, departments, years or service, what they do and one little known fact about themselves – usually, this incites many a laugh since people do try and be funny about their “facts”.
  • In One Word: Another way to get the ball rolling is by introducing a pertinent subject and then asking all the members of the group, to state their feelings about it in just one word, one by one. You will see a few smiles, some head shakes and plenty nods in this one.
  • Try Something Fun: Ice breakers don’t always have to be relevant for the meet/session afterwards, they are just there to get some laughs out and get the attention on you, the speaker. So to make a training session (that most participants might be dreading in all honesty) fun, start with a wacky question that gets people laughing even before the question. Like which animal/vegetable/Transformer/Barbie/GoT character would you be and why, if you were one! [3].
  • Twinkly, Shiny Work Moments: Ask each member of the group to stand up, introduce themselves and what they do, and then talk about the three best work movements they ever had. Invariably people will mention an award or achievement, a brainstorm moment they had and often, a time when everybody else pitched in to help him or her and proved that people can be friends at workplaces too.
  • Five of Anything: You can use ice breakers like these to spilt large groups into more manageable groups of three to five, to get the conversation started. But remember, get the participants to switch places – maybe one of each department in each group so as to get actual interaction rather than friends sitting with friends. Then ask each member to talk about five of anything to the others, till each member has had a turn. It could be anything, best novels, worst movies, favorite flowers, the best/worst things about the workplace… Finally one volunteer from each group will take notes and then read out everything to the whole group – generating plenty of laughs along the way [4].
  • Pass The Toilet Paper: So bathroom humor never gets old, no matter how old you get. To play this game, pass a roll of toilet paper around a group sitting in a circle telling them to take as much as they need. Everyone laughs at the amount people take, and once the roll is finished and everyone has had a go, you drop the bomb. For each piece of toilet paper taken, the person has to tell the group something about himself or herself that the others don’t know.
  • If I Could: Ask people to think about a situation – something they read, they saw – and talk about it for 2 minutes, and basically share their dreams, possible or impossible, with the group.

At A Party: Ice Breakers That Double Up As Hilarious Games

Getting a group of people together at a party often means a group of varied ages, interests, backgrounds and such, so the best way to get the party started, so as to speak, is get in a few of these ice breakers [5].

  • Groups That Draw Together: Get people to form random groups (every one wearing red, or all who love Johnny Depp) of equal numbers. Now hand each group a sheet of paper, a pencil and some colors and ask them to draw something, together. Each group can be given the same subject to draw on. Each member gets 60 seconds to draw something and then passes the same sheet to the next who continues the drawing, and so on and so forth. The group that finishes first, wins!
  • Doctor, I Have A Strange Disease: This game can either be played in one group of 10-15 people, or split into groups of 4-5 if there’s more of a crowd. One person acts out, in a silly and over the top manner, as a person with an illness, and the others have to guess the illness
  • My Other Half: This works well for large groups with people who don’t know much about each other. Make couple cards (think Adam & Eve, Romeo & Juliet, Bonnie & Clyde, etc) – write one name on each card with no repeats. Hand each guest one card – the game is that they have to find their other half by asking other guests yes or no questions only. The first couple to “complete themselves” wins.
  • Tell Us A Story: Draw a large grid square on a sheet of paper and in the four quadrants, write four fun topics: your worst date, the worst work day, the time you were most embarrassed and a vacation gone wrong. Guests line up and toss a coin at the quadrant, and then have to recite a story about the topic they “chose”. The funnier the better.
  • Do You Have? You can split a large group of guests into teams and then give each team a pre-prepared list of things to produce from their purses and pockets (think coins, $100 dollar bill, a baby picture, bifocals, a condom). Limited time and the team with everything or almost wins.
  • Animal Sounds: Each guest is handed one of a pair of cards, with an animal’s name on it, and on random and in secret, another guest is handed a duplicate of the same. Guests walk around making the sounds and doing the actions of those animals till they find their partner.
  • Nutty Questions, Nuttier Answers: Write zany questions on separate chits of paper – things like “Do you like potatoes?” Then on separate chits of paper, write equally zany answers like, “I have only one dream, and that’s it”. Stack the piles on each side of a table and split the group into two. One participant from the question group picks a chit and reads it, while one participant from the answer groups reads an answer – making for some really zany conversation!
  • Who Am I? Simple, easy but fun to do. Write the names of cartoon character on chits of paper, fold them and put them into a bowl. Now ask people to fish out chits one by one and then try and enact that character (think Goofy, Donald Duck, Betty Boop, Spock, Captain Jack Sparrow), while the others have to guess the name. Make the characters as funny and colorful as possible for some hilarious fun.

And you don’t have to limit yourself to just these ideas. If you are the host, think of the most fun you had at a party and take inspiration from there. And if it’s in the office, well, it doesn’t have to be a boring meeting, does it?

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Reference

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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