Amanda Stonex

Ambitious projects are made by great teams. The humble icebreaker can get you off to a flying start. Our head of strategy shows us how to “icebreak” with style and versatility.

We are in the business of creating cohesive communities, rich in collaboration and positive interaction, inclusive of all participants. When done well, setting aside the time to perform an icebreaker is a reliable way to begin connection building.

The flip side is that Icebreakers can be uncomfortable or anxiety-inducing if not done right.  We’ve heard horror stories of situations aiming to level the playing field by forcing participants out of their comfort zones.  

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way!

A great icebreaker should remove barriers like hierarchy and job title. A skilful facilitator understands that asking questions is a quick-fire way to build a connection with co-workers, opening dialogue to build empathy and understanding and an overall sense of community within a group of people who either don’t know each other or are coming together from different departments.  

The goal is to have everyone in the group feel comfortable speaking up. One of our go-to icebreakers simply involves a question that invites discussion, offers humour, and provides insight into how someone likes to operate, without making anyone feel uncomfortable or requiring one to divulge inappropriate personal information.

So what do we ask?

Able to adapt to any industry, our favourite sure-fire question is a simple one, yet is something of a Swiss army knife, it can pivot to meet the needs of any group.

“If you were to describe yourself - which kitchen implement would you be?”

Sounds silly? Maybe a little, but it won’t make a group feel uncomfortable, it transcends divisions like age, gender, race, love interests, ability, or religion, and most importantly, there is no cringe factor.

Even a toddler can select something from the kitchen, and with a little bit of thought, your choice can say a lot about who you are as a person, inviting light-hearted discourse and revealing something about the participant without getting too personal.

• Slow cooker? Reliable, consistent, and gets the job done without any fuss.

• Microwave? Fast acting, useful, doesn’t always deliver consistent results.

• Bottle opener? Single-focused, the gateway to relaxation, life of the party.

• Wok? Runs hot, with a clever ability to merge many conflicting ingredients into something delicious.

The flexibility of the question elevates this icebreaker to gold star status.

Meeting with a group of veterinarians you could ask which dog breed they’d be. Mechanics could ponder which tool, Sales people which product…the variations are endless.

Such a simple question can remove barriers and open the door to revealing the building blocks of community, to pave the way towards a common goal in harmony.

So, which kitchen implement would you be and why?

Amanda Stonex
Head of Strategy