The point of a good ice breaker is to get your foot in the door. It is not to make a “great first impression” – you already need to be locked in a relaxed conversation to get that far.
Over the last decade, I’ve taught a considerable number of people how to improve their conversation skills. During that time, I’ve noticed that the clients who have struggled in the past have often adopted bad habits that prevent their conversations from starting, and flowing, naturally.
One of those bad habits is breaking the ice with a question.
Whilst this isn’t tantamount to high treason, it places the responsibility of the conversation on someone you’ve never met. For example, ask them if they’re having fun and they’ll either reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Unless you’re fast on your feet, that answer will leave you with few places to verbally steer yourself.
Unless you like making life tricky for yourself, don’t use questions to start conversations strangers.
Statements Are Much Better For Breaking The Ice
A statement is a declaration that is either true or false; which means once you share it you have two potential outcomes for the conversation.
For example, suppose you say “You look like you’re having fun.”
Tiffany is either already having fun, in which case she will agree with you and you’re off to a good start. Any feeling of agreement is a state of trust and comfort- perfect ingredients for a connection!
Tiffany is not having fun and now the emphasis is back on you to make the next few moments of the interaction wonderfully pleasant.
At this point, the ice has been broken and you are leading the conversation. Your next move might well be to make a light hearted joke or say something playful.
(“Oh no! This is terrible news! Let’s fix that…”).
The easiest way to make statements is to get into the habit of sharing truthful observations with the people you meet. Keep the observations positive and upbeat and you’ll find a wealth of fodder to smoothly break the ice and pass the hardest part of the interaction.
Tip: If you’d like to know what to say once the ice has been broken, check out this popular free guide I’ve already written for you here.