I’m sharing with you my top 25 conversation starters today! Conversation starters/ice breakers are one of my favorite tools at work. They come in handy with both patients and staff. Some people absolutely love them. (So much so that they sometimes overtake my group and we do these for the whole time.)
Occasionally, I have people (almost always staff in my CPI classes) roll their eyes when I introduce an ice breaker. For my curiosity, I often ask why the dislike for one of my favorite group activities. I’ve heard I hate talking about myself and I’m a private person most often.
I can respect privacy, but these aren’t asking for your social security number or home address. They should be fun and urge interaction. Some are serious, some are more fun. When I do groups, I encourage people to pass or pick a new question if they are uncomfortable.
So, why do you like conversation starters so much, Melissa?
We live in a very disconnected world now. Whenever I am out walking on the marsh trails, downtown, or even through the hospital hallways, I try to greet everyone. Sometimes with only a smile, but most of the time I try to say ‘hello’.
A few days ago, I took a walk on the trail. I greeted 17 people with a hello and a smile. Only two people verbally acknowledged me. One man smiled, but didn’t say anything. Several wouldn’t make eye contact with me or acknowledge I was in their presence. There were people who used their phones or iPods to avoid any interaction with me.
My favorites are always the people who look at me with a baffled expression. They don’t say anything back, but they stare like I am the biggest freak they’ve seen. Maybe I am, but even freaks deserve a friendly smile
Folks at the hospital seem a bit more receptive. Probably because I’m wearing my name badge and they think I’m just doing my job. If I’m walking the hospital hallways, I’m usually on my lunch break. This doesn’t mean I’m on break from humanity, though.
I have no clue what brings our visitors and patients to the hospital. It could be a minor procedure, a routine check up, or a loved one fighting for their live in critical care. Everyone deserves a smile at the very least.
One thing I’ve noticed is greeting people seems to open myself up for questions. “Where are the F elevators?” “How do I get to the parking ramp?” “Where can I get a wheelchair?”
I’ve been in places where I’ve been completely lost and no one has the time or patience to direct me to where I need to go. Or, people notice me looking bewildered and go the opposite direction so they don’t have to deal with me.
If I could start a movement, it would be for people to greet each other more often. Look up from the cellphones. Notice your surroundings and the people in it. Start up conversations and meet people. The world needs more friendliness these days.