The same boring old icebreaker questions get brought up when trying to get to know someone new. The simplistic “where are you from?” and “what do you do for a living?” grow tiresome to ask and hear time and time again. And with overplayed icebreaker games like “Two truths and a lie” and having to say “an interesting fact about yourself,” you start to dread them as well. This is why we want to create new, more unique icebreaker questions that are important to building lasting relationships and connections with new people.

To spice up a conversation with a new peer, here are some ideas and tips on how to create your own unique and exciting icebreaker questions, guaranteed to liven up any convo with any adult. The discussion includes: 

  • Tips to consider when creating your own icebreakers
  • Some examples of uniquely-crafted icebreakers
  • Icebreakers questions to avoid

Tips For Creating Your Own Icebreakers

There are several things to consider when it comes to using your social skills to curate worthy icebreaker questions as an adult, whether the situation is formal or informal and the group is big or small. 

Allow others to express themselves thoroughly 

Never be too critical of someone’s answer, or it might tarnish the relationship you are trying to build. Keep an open mind and express interest in their answers by asking further questions. 

Terry Gross, a NPR host, states that “posing a broad question lets people lead you to who they are.” She also infers that being a good conversationalist requires having curiosity and empathy when it comes to showing the person you want to listen to what they have to say. 

Think of relevant questions based on the person or group

When thinking of a question, consider topics and interests that might be relevant to the people you are speaking to. For example, you might ask a group of medical professionals what their favorite part of their job is. Or you could ask your book club what their favorite part of the book was. 

Be inclusive

If the question can only be answered by a select few of those around you, then the question isn’t as inclusive as it should be. Inclusivity is important for getting everyone talking, making the conversation feel more involved and connected without leaving anyone out. 

Be sensitive and respectful

Be considerate of others’ beliefs and values when asking an icebreaker question, making sure that the questions are respectful. Ask questions that encourage others to share their own diverse perspectives and establish a safe, welcoming environment.

Allow for some time for the other person to think of their answer 

Don’t pressure the person being asked or else you won’t receive an authentic answer! In a group of multiple people being asked, nicely grant someone a pass when they can’t think of an answer and continue on to someone else and revert back to them later. 

Make your question a positive one

Keep icebreakers funny to provide a welcoming, exciting environment for your peers. The wittier the question is, the better. It even sets a better impression for yourself as you establish a positive conversational tone to the other person.  

Set a good example and answer first

The people you ask might gain inspiration from your answer, which will help the conversation go more smoothly. 

Plus, your vulnerability in answering first allows for your peers to trust you. Author Brené Brown, in her exceedingly popular Ted Talk about vulnerability, stated that “in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.” 

Allow for some refining

After asking the question, watch how effective it was and take in the responses given. This gives you the chance to learn what does and doesn’t work with your question, and thus the chance to improve the question for future icebreaker conversations. 

Three new peers stand on a set of stairs at their university, answering icebreaker questions.
Icebreakers can be used in groups big and small and within formal and informal settings. 

Examples of Uniquely Crafted Icebreakers

“What fact about your current self would surprise your child self?”

This kind of question that asks about someone’s childhood helps new friends reflect on their life, their own personal growth, and their upbringings. It also takes a different approach to the tiresome “interesting fact about yourself” when you bring in the aspect of the inner-child.  

“What would the title of your memoir be?”

Asking someone to label their life as a book title is a great way to dignify their life as a whole in their point of view, while also catching a glimpse into their personality. It is an entertaining question to ask because the answers are guaranteed to be meaningful yet quirky. 

“What fictional character do you identify with?”

Figuring out what fictional character someone is most like lets you know what type of traits this person might possess. From there, the discussion can turn to the piece of media the character is from, leading to a worthy conversation about each other’s favorite books, movies, TV shows, etc. 

Questions asking a person to identify themselves in a round-about way, whether it be through a fictional character or a book title, give you a glimpse of the person’s personality while also giving you a feel for what they like.

“What would you do in a zombie apocalypse?”

An open-ended question can go a long way – with one situation possibly delving into several other paths and possibilities to explore and discuss. With this particular question, you can find out what kind of role they would play – a leader, a hider, a hunter, etc. The role they pick tells a lot about themselves, particularly how they see themselves working in a catastrophe. You could even add on further questions like “What famous figure do you want on your side helping you?” and “What would some of your strategies be?” 

“If you could steal anything from a museum, what would you steal and why?”

Everyone’s sure to have that one artifact they would love to have as a decoration in their own home. With this question there are endless answers and explanations, ranging from the Declaration of Independence to the Mona Lisa. The next questions might be how they would commit the heist or maybe what they would do with the piece other than use it for decoration. 

“What is the most adventurous/daring thing you have ever done?”

A storytelling question might not work for every scenario, but the answers will tell you a lot. Stories tell you about a person’s interest and motivations, which can establish a deeper bond between you or inspire others in your group to tell their own stories. 

“If you could become an expert in any field, what field would it be and why?”

Similar to asking what a person’s dream job would be, asking this question sets up the possibility to know each other’s personal aspirations and interests. A further conversation about career goals could then evolve from the question, with the intention of continuing to each other. 

Two new acquaintances spend time at dinner asking each other icebreaker questions to get to know each other better.
Uniquely-crafted icebreakers can be great for launching into longer conversations with a new peer.

Icebreaker Questions to Avoid

Avoid complex and confusing questions

Make sure the question is clear and understandable. No one wants to make things awkward with very complicated questions where no one can think of an answer. The simpler the question, the better of a chance you have to get an answer that leads to a great conversation. 

Avoid factual questions

Questions with only one correct answer or Yes/No questions might stress someone out with the pressure of getting them right. Icebreaker questions should not be testing the knowledge of a new peer, they should be getting to know their personality and setting the stage for a new friendship. 

Avoid uncomfortable, off-putting questions 

The worst thing to do is to put someone you just met in an awkward position because you asked a question you shouldn’t have. 

Asking questions about awkward experiences makes the environment uncomfortable – not exactly the positive first impression you’re trying to make. It’s smart to avoid questions like “what’s your most embarrassing moment?” and “what’s the worst date you’ve ever had?” when getting to know somebody. Nobody wants to feel like they’re embarrassing themselves in front of someone new. 

Avoid deeply personal questions

At least until you have gotten through the get-to-know you phase. After that you can ask the deeper questions. Plus, some people aren’t comfortable being asked to be so vulnerable early on, so you risk causing them discomfort if you ask them too soon. 

That’s it for our handy guide to icebreaker questions for adults.

When done correctly, icebreaker questions do not have to be completely dreadful. Given the unique icebreaker questions above and tips on how to create your own, we hope you see there are endless possibilities to break the ice and make the connections more meaningful. The most important thing to remember when it comes to icebreakers is to have fun with them, and soon enough the questions will come effortlessly.

May 29, 2023