Ultimate Icebreaker – Secret Santa

“Who was your hero when you were 8?” Typical icebreaker question – right? And these are fine when members of a group don’t know each other. Safely superficial. Anything deeper would be inappropriate – too personal, too soon. But what kind of icebreaker can help a team go deeper and increase their trust when they already know each other? Here’s one we got from a client recently.

Secret Santa Icebreaker

A day or more before the team meets, write each team member’s name on separate pieces of paper and put them in a hat/bowl/jar. Have each person draw one name (if they draw their own, they draw again) – this is their “honoree”

Each person writes a short complementary paragraph or two about their honoree. Only positives! Topics potentially include:

· what they have learned from the honoree,

· what they admire about the honoree,

· how the honoree has had a positive impact on the team or organization,

· some skill the honoree possesses that others do not,

· an outstanding accomplishment of the honoree,

· etc.

At the start of the meeting, each team member honors their honoree in front of the entire team, one at a time. Rather than using 3rd person (“Jim really helped me when…”), the speaker talks directly to their honoree’s face, using “you” language (“Jim, you really helped me when…”)

This process was suggested by an introvert, who did well in both giving and receiving complements publicly.

Let me know how it works for you.

Gary Langenwalter

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