10 Worst Corporate Icebreakers



Forced hand-to-hand contact in the workplace is likely to make people uncomfortable.
Forced hand-to-hand contact in the workplace is likely to make people uncomfortable.
TongRo Image Stock/Thinkstock

When you were a kid, if you had a playful uncle that said "pull my finger" at a family gathering, it was probably followed by anything from a silly facial expression to flatulence. Why would anyone ever want to do that in the boardroom? That's where the icebreaker known as "gotchya" comes in.

"Gotchya" starts with participants standing in a circle with their arms extended outward on either side. Each person assumes this hand position: left palm up and right index finger pointing down. Each right index finger should be touching the outstretched left palm of its neighbor, forming a circle of finger-to-palm connections. When the activity leader says "go," each person must try to grab the index finger of the person on his left while preventing his own index finger from being grabbed.

Like "human knot," this means stepping outside of your comfort zone to touch someone you might have little or no social association with. That alone can be a source of anxiety for many people, particularly if it draws attention to hand injuries or deformities. It can also bring up the question, "Do you know where that hand has been?" What kind of germs might be spreading around the room?

On top of these anxieties, pointing or grabbing an index finger, or touching hands at all, could elicit a response based on cultural connotations. On the negative side, this ranges from the playful "pull my finger" joke, a popular joke in Western culture, to the outright rudeness of touching something with your left hand, which is considered an insult in some cultures.

Next, we look at an icebreaker that's all about lies.