Why adults still need ice-breakers

‘Getting to know you’ is more awkward as you get older.

Image credit: TeePublic.com

What the hell is up with adulthood anyway? I’ve not been in this realm too long, but it seems some people ease into it with more style than others. This fact is especially pronounced when a large group of people are meeting each other for the first time.

Recently, I attended a residential at the International Olympic Academy in Olympia, Greece. We were all young adults, late teens to early twenties, and we were all as awkward as our school photos on picture day.

We sat in rows avoiding each other’s gaze or making polite small talk about the weather. Then it was announced that we were all to leave our seats and assemble at the front of the room. To do the Cha Cha Slide.

Yes, the DJ Casper classic from the year 2000. Now the track that was chosen was not the original from my childhood, which irked me somewhat, but some rock dwellers needed the lyrics, so they chose a karaoke-style track.

Young adult brows collectively twitched as we took our positions and began sliding to the left, criss crossing and cha cha-ing our unwilling limbs. Needless to say, we all felt the organisers had been a little ambitious with this, our first introduction to them and each other.

Next followed an ice breaker where we had to guess the letters of the lead co-ordinator’s name. Spoiler alert, his name is Cliff, but he had us sounding out the letters complete with pre-school actions. I about died, as did much of the room. We shot each other confused glances and pained expressions which screamed “OMG, WE’RE TOO OLD FOR THIS!

But it turns out we weren’t.

The final ice-breaker was the best of all. It was thumb wars. You know, the playground game you play with a partner, trying to cover each others’ thumb before the other while your hands are interlocked? It was classic nostalgia, and looking around it seemed people enjoyed this one the most.

Not only does thumb wars have the competition element, which usually makes even the most cynical young adult perk up in new environs, it just balances the line between easy and fun social activity, and making you feel like you’re in infants school again. And that last part may be the most important.

The way adults socialise with each other doesn’t differ all that much from when they were children. Young children approach each other with careless abandon and curiosity, trying to find out who all these new people are, and whether they will be friend or foe. It seemed in this case, the key to getting to know one another was socialising like kids again.

These days, striking up a conversation with someone you don’t know is all but avoided, and even receives a frosty glare at times. Perhaps resist the urge to inwardly groan, the next time someone suggests a round of charades.