There is a whole WORLD of team building and group activities out there for leaders to choose from. Icebreakers are often the go-to choice for getting everyone acquainted and comfortable with each other in a business setting – and there’s nothing wrong with that from our point of view. However, for introverts and anxious people, these icebreakers can feel overwhelming and even intimidating. (We do recognize this here at The Messy Cookie, even though for the most part we are all #TeamExtrovert.) This recent article "Icebreakers for Introverts and Anxious People" (IntrovertDear.com) talks about this dilemma and offers some great insights into creating a more inclusive environment. There are various solutions proposed, but in our opinion there’s one idea that stands out as a deliciously effective way to break the ice and foster connections: Decorating cookies together as a team!
Understanding the Challenge of Icebreakers
The article does a terrific job diving into the diverse types of personalities within a group, acknowledging that what works wonders for some might not resonate with others. Traditional icebreakers often involve the reveal of personal information or being put on the spot or in the spotlight. An unfortunate side effect is that this can put introverts and anxious individuals on edge (and sometimes other types too!) It's important to approach team-building activities with sensitivity and empathy, making sure that everyone feels comfortable and included. That’s a big part of psychological safety at work, which is something all leaders need to be mindful of.
The Power of Cookie Decorating
Cookie decorating offers a delightful alternative to conventional icebreakers. Instead of forcing individuals to share personal anecdotes or engage in high-pressure situations, it’s an activity that lets everyone come together in a light-hearted and enjoyable setting. Here are several reasons why cookie decorating can be the perfect solution to the author's dilemma:
Creativity and Self-Expression
Decorating cookies is an artistic endeavor that allows participants to express themselves creatively. Instead of relying on verbal communication, team members can convey their personalities and preferences through their unique cookie designs. Introverts may find this mode of self-expression more comfortable, allowing them to contribute actively to the team-building activity.
Collaborative and Inclusive
Cookie decorating encourages collaboration among team members. Everyone can join in, regardless of their communication style or level of extroversion. By working together toward a shared goal – creating a batch of beautifully decorated cookies – individuals feel a sense of camaraderie and inclusivity, fostering a positive team dynamic.
We’ve definitely talked about this before but it bears repeating: Engaging in a fun and enjoyable activity like cookie decorating can be a great stress-reliever. For anxious people, the act of focusing on decorating the cookies can provide a calming and meditative experience. It helps create a relaxed and non-threatening environment, allowing participants to open up naturally without feeling pressured. And if it’s taking place online, which many of our events do, they can join in the conversation to the extent they feel comfortable.
Icebreaker in Disguise
While traditional icebreakers can be jarring for introverts, cookie decorating gets to a similar goal of breaking down barriers and building connections. When team members engage in conversation and share their various tips on the decorating techniques, they naturally get to know one another, forming connections without it feeling so forced.
Each cookie decorated by a team member showcases their unique personality and style. Cookie decorating celebrates diversity, demonstrating that everyone's contribution is valuable, and differences are something to be cherished. This approach fosters an inclusive environment where individuals feel appreciated for their individuality.
Let's not forget the best part of cookie decorating as a team – the delicious results! A team will always get to enjoy the fruits of their labor, indulging in the sweet reward of their cookie creations (no matter how they look!)
We totally get that there is a need for more inclusive team-building activities that appeal to diverse communication styles. As a team leader, it's always important to consider the preferences and comfort levels of your team members to create a welcoming and supportive environment.
Decorating cookies together as a team presents a delightful solution to the icebreaker dilemma. By embracing creativity, collaboration, and stress-relief, cookie decorating facilitates meaningful connections and provides a non-threatening way for introverts and anxious individuals to engage with others. It celebrates diversity, promotes inclusivity, and ensures that everyone's unique contribution is valued.
So, the next time you're planning a team-building activity, we are more than happy to help you find a path that will gather everyone together around the cookie decorating table – virtual or in person. Not only will everyone end up with some delicious treats, but you'll also be nurturing a more harmonious team that understands and appreciates one another. And that makes your team stronger and more connected than ever.