In my workshops, I use a variety of ice breakers, depending on the team, company or programme that I am facilitating. On this occasion, the team were a virtual team, working for the same organisation, however in different parts of Asia.
It is always useful, to build a strong, effective team, for team members to find out a little bit more about each other, based on their lives outside of work. So, on this occasion, I asked the delegates to share an unusual fact about themselves that their colleagues may not know. Each delegate writes their name on a piece of paper, together with their unusual fact and hands them to me. I then read each fact out and allow the delegates to guess whose fact it is. Once someone guesses correctly, the individual provides more detail about their fact and others can ask questions to find out more.
On this occasion, as usual, I was reading through the facts as they were given to me by the delegates. Some interesting facts had been written and then I did a double-take, when I read one from John (name changed for anonymity). John’s unusual fact was, that he had a fear of public speaking up until the age of 18, as he had killed a man at the age of 6. When it got to John, who was in his late 40’s, I checked that he was OK with sharing his fact with the group. John, who had a very dry sense of humour replied positively and proceeded to share it with the rest of the team.
“When I was younger, I was in the cub scouts. Once a month would go to the local old folks home and sit with the residence and share with them what we had been doing over the last month. One visit was just after my 6th birthday and I was looking forward to telling the folks all about my birthday, party and showing them the cowboy outfit my Mum & Dad had bought me. So, resplendent in my cowboy outfit, I turned up at the home. It was a glorious sunny day and I ended up sitting to Frank, who must have been in his early 80’s. I began telling Frank all about my birthday, the party and all the presents I had received, including the cowboy outfit.
After a while, there was a tap on my shoulder. It was one of the nurses. She told me that we had to go back into the home. When I asked why, she told me that sadly Frank had passed away. The nurse, obviously concerned that this may have upset me, drove me home to my house. In our lounge she told my parents what had happened. Unbeknown to everyone, my 13 year old sister had been listening to all this, hidden behind the lounge door and proceeded to tell family, friends and schoolmates that I had killed a man by talking so much that I had bored him to death. As you can imagine, the news spread like wildfire.”
At this point the room erupted into howls of laughter as everyone played out the scenario in their heads. A huge grin appeared on John’s face. He continued.
“So, from that day until I was in my late teens, I would never speak to anyone for longer than ten minutes in case I bored them to death.”