Icebreakers - A practical approach to groupdynamics (Tine Fris-Ronsfeld, Kristoffer Fynbo Thorning)
What Is an Icebreaker?
Being part of a group can be a great experience. It is fantastic when every member of the group contributes in achieving a common goal. When the time spent together just flies by and when everyone is in
a good mood and spirits are high.
Icebreakers are games and exercises that bring people of all ages together. We have introduced icebreakers to all kinds of groups over the past ten years. From these experiences we have drawn an important lesson: Integrating icebreakers as a core activity in any type of group work creates and sustains a good atmosphere and strengthens the social bonds in the group.
Why Do We Need Them?
First impressions and getting off on the right foot are crucial if you want to establish a positive feeling in the group and promote good working relationships. Playfulness and the willingness to make mistakes are key elements in creativity and letting ideas flow. Trust, team spirit and respecting each other as individuals are some of the underlying pillars that make ideas grow. In some groups, people already know each other from earlier for better or for worse. In other scenarios, people might be strangers to each other and feel somewhat insecure. Some may be nervous about how to go about solving the tasks at hand, while others are bursting with ideas and can’t wait to get started. Some may be tired or unfocused, because they are preoccupied with other matters that are unrelated to the project. Icebreakers are tools that enable the group to establish a common ground before addressing the topic of the day.
How Do They Work?
Icebreakers allow group members the opportunity to welcome and introduce everybody, establish eye contact, learn each others names, shake hands and get comfortable with one another in a playful way. They highlight the importance of each group member and shine a light on each person’s unique set of skills. By using icebreakers the participants get to know each other better by collaborating two and two, in smaller groups and as a whole. The group members solve small tasks together and collaborate on creating and developing new ideas in an informal way.
Icebreakers are great, because they are games, where you can shed the role you would normally hold in a group. Someone who does not normally speak up or take leadership can be in charge and be heard and seen in a new way. The chosen leaders or the ones often taking the lead are given an opportunity to step back, listen, follow and support the other group members, all the while gaining new perspectives and seeing the potential of each member of the group.
Fostering the group members’ musicality is central to many of the icebreakers, because establishing a sense of rhythm, practicing music and dancing are activities that ensure people are in synch with each other. Building a musical groove is in many ways similar to building a machine. Every part of the groove has a function and plays a role in making it all come together. To make it work everyone has to understand their own role, but also work together like one big organism. When we play music or sing together, we follow the same tempo, we feel the same flow, we are all part of the same soundscape. When singing together all voices join in unison. The combination of the lyrics, the melody and the rhythm, lets us get in touch with an undercurrent of feelings and connects us with the people in the choir. We are left with a feeling of unity and fellowship.
That is why musical icebreakers are so effective in bringing people together. We hope that this collection will serve as an inspiration and help you break the ice, wherever it is needed.