Six Degrees of Separation Icebreakers

by Mary Pletcher; Updated September 26, 2017
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According to the popular concept of six degrees of separation, every person is linked to every other person by no more than six connections through other people. The idea that we all have more in common than we think can be used for a variety of easy icebreakers, all of which emphasize the similarities between team members for a quick team building introduction.

Chain

A simple six degrees ice breaker involves asking participants to create a chain based on their similarities. One group member stands up and begins telling details about themselves, such as their birth month, favorite color, last movie seen or college major. Whenever they say something that another member has in common with them, that member stands up and links arms with them until all group members have linked arms. If time permits, play several times allowing as many members as possible the opportunity to start the chain.

Six Degrees In The Room

To demonstrate how quickly connections are made, even in a large group, have each group member think of a question to ask another group member that would help them learn about their values or deepest beliefs. Allow three to five minutes for members to ask this question of as many others as they can. After time has elapsed, ask a small group of people, such as everyone with a March birthday, to stand up. Ask everyone who asked their question to one of the people standing to stand up. Then ask people who asked any of this larger group to stand up. Continue until everyone is standing. It should take less than five rounds for everyone to be standing, demonstrating that they connected with the whole group in six degrees or less in just five minutes.

Six Degrees Circle

For a small group, you can have everyone stand in a circle. Select one person to begin talking about their hobbies, education and other interests. When they say something another person shares, that person should raise their hand. That person then begins telling about themselves until someone else raises their hand with a similarity. Continue until everyone has shared or as long as time permits. This is a quick way to get a group to develop a rapport and establish common interests.

Commonality Contest

For a quick, fun game, especially among groups with members of different generations, divide the group into pairs. Give each pair a pen and piece of paper and five minutes to list as many commonalities as they have. When time is up, have each team count their commonalities and award a prize to the team that came up with the most. Share the commonalities and see how many appear on more than one team's list, establishing connections with other pairs.

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