Monday, December 6, 2010

Two Truths and a Lie

Let's see...I'm a published author. I'm bi-racial (white mother, black father). I've never traveled outside the United States.

Two of these statements are true about me, and one is a lie. If you read the blog regularly, you'll know right away which is the lie. But if you've never met me or read my posts, it might be harder to tell. (I'll save you the suspense--I went to Greece last year and Zambia the year before that.)

"Two Truths and A Lie" is a common icebreaker game, used to help people who are meeting for the first time to get to know one another. I'm thinking about icebreakers today because soon I'm going to be leading a group of new students through a few of these exercises. I personally enjoy icebreakers, but I know lots of people who utterly despise them.

I've observed that outgoing people often find icebreakers cheesy, forced and restrictive. But I spent years as the quiet wallflower type, who wanted to talk to new people, but didn't always know how to go about it. Icebreakers offered a space and permission to engage people and it made everything that came after much easier. I've since become much more comfortable in new, awkward social settings than I used to be. So for me, maybe the structure of icebreakers is no longer necessary. But I find myself wondering, what about those who are still helped by it?

The best icebreakers, for me, require people to talk to each other and to share personal--but not too personal--details with others. Favorite color, alma mater, number of siblings, and so on. These small talking points do open unexpected avenues of connection and conversation. Which is why I'm bothered that the first game that came to my mind is "Two Truths and a Lie," which is my least favorite icebreaker. Why? Because it seems contrary to the whole point of getting to know people if you're going to start off by having to sort through false information.

I'm open to suggestions for other, better icebreakers! Have you played these games? Do you love 'em or hate 'em?

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