Breaking the ice, warming the soul

My most recent LinkedIn post on icebreakers and connecting at work.

icebreaker

Forging the way – The Polar Explorer Icebreaker in Rovaniemi, Finland

At a recent stakeholder workshop, I ran an icebreaker to….well, break the ice. The participants were not all from the same business area. Many were meeting for the first time. So, the icebreaker had to be suitable – nothing that required prior knowledge of one another, nothing too personal, something to forge common ground.

Armed with post-it notes and a list of A/B questions, we went through an activity called This or That? which involved me calling out two options for a number of categories, and participants holding up a blue or a yellow post-it note to indicate their preference. (Note: The activity was designed for everyone to stand up and move into A/B groups. We didn’t have the space, but we had post-it notes and creativity.)

We started out with everyday, ‘safe’ preferences – Coffee or Tea? Dog or Cat? Beach or Countryside? – to get everyone comfortable with the idea. Then we moved on to the more entertaining – Singing or Dancing? AFL or Rugby? Star Trek or Star Wars? Adele or Justin Bieber?

justinbieberIt was a simple exercise but allowed us all to look around and learn something about our colleagues. There were smiles, nods of understanding and some moments of surprise. We learned that within this group, there was a church choir singer, several Trekkies, and…..just one Bieber fan.

But we don’t need to wait for scheduled opportunities to form connections. These are usually few and far between. Just as RU OK Day should be a starting point for regular conversations, icebreakers can be useful to kick-start connections with colleagues. And why wait for a workshop?

Considering that we spend a lot of time at work, how well do we really know our colleagues? Let’s take the time to get to know the people with whom we spend a third of our day. Don’t just ask if they’re OK on one designated day of the year.

iceberg

Conversations over lunch or in the office kitchen, discussions of weekend plans, noticing a photo or a book on your team-mate’s desk – these can provide insights into someone’s life outside of work and open up beautiful opportunities for connection.

Small talk can have a big impact when it grows into something greater that can break through barriers and reveal what lies beneath. Take the time to ask, to share, to connect.

After all, “We’re all just walking each other home.” – Ram Dass

©Seetha Nambiar Dodd

Let it go…

cache_heavy

This post is inspired by my first LinkedIn articleClear the cache, enhance the experience – where I found some parallels between a computer’s cache (storage) and the data in our heads. Could our minds to with a clear-out? Should I Marie Kondo my memory and keep only what sparks joy? Will this enhance my day-to-day experience?

The tech experts suggest it is worth doing a clear-out for reasons that strike me as relevant to our own wellbeing as much as our computer’s:

1. Capacity cache_overloaded

When we feel overwhelmed with all the bits of information we have to process, when there is too much to download, when our heads are bursting with busy-ness, maybe it is time to shed the excess and make room for the essential. Ever heard yourself, or someone else, say I just don’t have the headspace? Time to look at the storage facility in our heads and identify the things that are taking up too much valuable room.

2. Updated content

cache_anchor

Our behaviours and feelings are loaded with experience. Our own cache is full of what we’ve done, seen, said, heard, felt…..and what we have been. So, our responses today draw on and recycle our stored memories from yesterday. Holding on to fears, regret, anger, shame – this holds us back, slows us down, stops us from performing at our best. Clearing our cache allows us to create new responses and new feelings to the present moment without the baggage, pain or suffering of what has happened before.

It is true that experience is important – there are lessons to be learnt from the past and from those who have come before us – but only if we take the useful lessons and apply them well. Otherwise we repeat history, like a faulty link that we keep clicking on, hoping for a different result each time.

3. Corrupt/sensitive data

cache_known error

Sometimes things just don’t work properly if they are overloaded. We make mistakes when we are tired. Don’t let your cache become corrupted. A reset can be beneficial and provide clarity on the challenges we face. As Anne Lamott says, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

4. Malicious files 

cache_shark canoe

Viruses, toxic vibes, people who don’t have our best interests at heart – these can all attack our wellbeing, especially when we are overwhelmed and at our most vulnerable. How to install programs that will protect us? By ensuring we set ourselves up with enriching social circles and nurturing relationships, and commit to self-care. Be aware and intentional about the people we let into our lives. And finally, regularly work on ourselves by listening, learning, developing, and being open to the updates that are abundantly available.

Summary

The cache – ours or our browser’s – can inhibit optimal performance when it is overloaded, weighed down, in need of a reset, or under attack. Clearing the cache can be beneficial to wellbeing, and will hopefully lighten and enhance our overall experience…..of browsers and of life.

©2019 Seetha Nambiar Dodd