10 Worst Corporate Icebreakers


The Shoe Pile

What do your shoes say about you?
What do your shoes say about you?
Linda Grove/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When meeting new co-workers, most people would be mortified to accidentally expose an embarrassing undergarment. But in this game, it's a requirement.

As each person enters the room, he or she must remove one shoe and place it in a pile. After the whole group has gathered, everyone must go to the pile and pick up a shoe that doesn't belong to them. Then, they must search the room for the person who is wearing its match and introduce themselves.

Aside from its obvious silliness, this game guarantees a few embarrassments. For instance, there are bound to be a few poor souls in the room who haven't done their laundry and chose that morning to reach into their reserve of old, holey socks. But perhaps most embarrassed are those who just unleashed unpleasant foot odor upon the whole group, which makes everyone suffer.

Another variation on this game is to have everyone take off both their shoes and, after tying the pairs together, put them into a single pile in middle of the circle. One by one, each member of the circle will then be instructed to pick a pair that doesn't belong to them. After inspecting the pair, the person will make a statement about what they imagine the owner's personality to be. For instance, for wacky shoes, they could say, "this is a fun, unconventional person" or for old, worn out shoes they might say, "this person doesn't like shopping," "is stuck in his ways" or "is very loyal."

In addition to the problems with the first shoe game, this game encourages judgment. Flying in the face of don't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover logic, this exercise forces participants to make snap decisions based on one item of their co-worker's apparel. And among the group, each person will be remembered for the particular pair of shoes they chose to wear that day.

How else might an office icebreaker invade participants' personal space? Find out on the next page.