So as I detailed earlier this week, my daytime gig Connecticut Magazine has moved its offices to the New Haven Register building at Long Wharf in New Haven. As such, we arrived on Monday morning to a whole new world …
Speaking of which, we should’ve made this kind of entrance when arrived …
Or better yet, we could’ve gone for what this clip was based on, the grand entrance of Cleopatra coming into Rome. (I would’ve embedded the clip, but it’s nine minutes long. You get the picture, though …)
People who know me now often don’t remember, but I am painfully shy at first. Sure, once you get to know me (or read my blog, where I don’t have to stare you in the eye), I open up, but from a cold “start,” not so much. My first year at Connecticut Magazine, I made one “friend,” and she left for a new job after six months. I didn’t even start talking to my work wife Marisa until I had been there for two years. I’ve tried to get better at introducing myself to new people, but it’s still a tough struggle for me.
I remember when I moved to Connecticut from Brooklyn, New York. Talk about culture shock! I had only been here once before—to my aunt’s house, which was on the far side of Milford—and all I knew for sure was that there was a lot more trees and grass. I knew absolutely no one, and the first few days at the new house on Linwood Street were lonely. I sort of wandered down the street, and then just scurried back to the yard. I was the new kid on the block, and it would still be over a decade before that might even be considered cool. I was hangin’ tough at that point.
As you can imagine, the first day of school was tough, although I totally lucked out. I don’t think I talked to anyone until later in the afternoon when the kid sitting next to me in Mrs. Morrison’s class looked over, took pity and said, “Hey, my name is Kenny. Want to come over after school and play?” “YES!” I think I probably shouted. Turns out he lived on Sassacus Drive, which is right off of Linwood. From there, he introduced to me most of the other kids in the neighborhood, and I took it from there.
[Before you ask: Kenny and I were friendly until high school, when life took us in other directions. Haven’t seen or heard from him since, but I still owe him a huge thanks!]
Anyway, as we start in the new office, I do have a benefit in that I have my old friends from Trumbull with me, but we are still totally the new kids on the playground and stand out like a sore thumbs, if I can mix my metaphors. People have recognized us as strangers and introduced themselves, but it’s been awkward at times.
As such, I’ve been brainstorming a few ideas that we could use as icebreakers to make new friends …
An introductory PowerPoint presentation –
Parking lot barbeque cookout – The quickest way to make friends is to share food, and nothing says “hey, you!” like smoked hunks of animal flesh slathered with messy sauces, right? Throw in some corn on the cob, and you can have a fun, conversation-starting corn race the next day in the bathroom stalls.
Random pranks – “Who lit off a stink bomb in the publisher’s office?” “Another rubber chicken in the cafeteria microwave?” “Who sent the letter with the mysterious white powder to the mail room? Awww, must’ve been the wacky new people. Those madcaps!”
Impromptu playground games – Nothing will force an introduction like running into the random cubicle of someone you haven’t met yet, hitting them in the face with a banana cream pie, yelling “Tag! You’re IT!” and scampering away.
Midday movie club – Set up a screen in the cafeteria, pop some popcorn, whip up some strawberry slurpees and you have an event that might be conducive to social interactive. Of course, it depends on the movie, and I don’t think there’s anything that would make for a better icebreaker than this award-winning flick.
Panty raid! – All right, it may not be the most politically correct activity in the work place, but I have to think that an orchestrated surprise snatching of the undergarments of your new co-workers is a great way to learn more about them in the most fun way possible. Besides, who wouldn’t want to instantly make friends with the person running around the office with a pair of boxer shorts on their head?
Honey badger time – Releasing the “m0st fearless animal” on the planet [NSFW language] in a new workplace may sound “dangerous” to some, but it will quickly bring people together and force new relationships against a common, angry foe. Also, a crisis will help identify the cliques you want to get into, be it animal lovers or problem solvers, and obviously, you will make friends with someone while you’re cowering together in a broom closet until the SWAT team arrives.
Improv @ The Caf – Sure, taking your tray and trying to slide into the empty seat at the cool kids table is always an option, but why go that route when you know all it well get you is a dumped lunch and an old school pantsing? Here’s a chance to serve up a heaping helping of ha-ha—and who doesn’t instantly want to become friends with the funniest guy in the room? Start out with some simple insult comedy (“Hey, do you get a free bowl of soup with that prosthetic leg?”), maybe work into some observational humor (“What’s the deal with all these stupid sexual harassment laws? Takes all the fun out of making copies of your butt, am I right?!”), and then finish it with some topical jokes (“What’s the difference between Rick Santorum’s political views and those of a cave man’s? The cave man isn’t running for the most important job on the planet!”). They’ll all be begging for seconds, and they’ll be lapping the funny—and friendship—straight out of your palm.
Two words: Keg party – Let’s be honest: Liquor is quicker when you want to make friends. Bars are where people meet, but why wait and hope you get invited to a Happy Hour when you can just make it party time any time in the office. A few rounds of beer pong, flip cup or quarters is a sure-fire way to lower inhibitions, break down social barriers and seem more attractive—in a “hey there new friend” sense—to others. When you think about it, it’s probably the only fool (100) proof method on this list. What could possibly go wrong?
So I guess that’s what we should plan—a raging kegger in the parking lot. Now who’s doing the first funnel?