Introduction to How Business Communication Icebreakers Work

Communication Breakdown: Team Building Icebreakers

Team building icebreakers can raise camaraderie in an office.
ŠiStockphoto /Jacob Wackerhausen

When among strangers, people who normally hate icebreakers will often agree to play along for the sake of politeness. However, after a group has worked together for a while and still hasn't naturally hit it off, it gets even harder to warm them up to each other. When people first start working together, there's a window of opportunity to easily become friendly. But as time passes and co-workers remain unfamiliar with each other, it gets exponentially more awkward. Worse still, a disagreement or misunderstanding could cause co-workers' relationship to freeze over -- as a result, business communication can break down.

To melt this thick ice and rebuild an atmosphere of teamwork, businesses need to apply the blowtorch of icebreakers. Use the following icebreakers for organizational communications that will bring teams together in an office:


  • "Trust walk": This is one of the most popular team building activities. To play, group people into pairs and have one of each pair put on a blindfold. The person without the blindfold will be the guide. Find a place with moderate obstacles (but nothing dangerous), and have the guides lead their partners from one side to the other. However, the guides must lead their partners only through talking to them -- they're not allowed to touch the other. The point is to build trust among co-workers and learn how to communicate to accomplish something.
  • "Pickpocket": This is a competitive game that can get people having fun and working together. Using a list of common items (such as a digital watch, receipt, lighter, breath mint, coupon, $5 bill) ask groups to come up with as many of the items as possible. The group that produces the most wins
  • "Human spider web": In this game, people gather in circles of about six or seven. Everyone takes his or her right hand and grabs the right hand of someone who is approximately opposite to them, and then does the same with left hands. When everyone's arms are intertwined, the group must figure out a way to untangle without letting go of any links. This activity helps participants exercise their team-building muscles and gets them thinking in a cooperative mindset.

An icebreaker can be relatively easy to pull off among co-workers in the average office, but what about when you're faced with energizing a large conference room or lecture hall full of icy business people?