There is possibly nothing worse than an awkward silence – where thirty seconds feels as if the universe could have been destroyed, dissolved and reborn all in that moment.
They say that silence is golden – but there comes a time when somethings are not worth their weight in gold, and awkward first encounters , and the potential chorus of silence that can ensue from them – is one.
Don’t get me wrong – you can have silence that doesn’t invoke terror . In fact those moments are one of the most humbling of all – to be so comfortable with someone that there are no need for words and just being is enough. Alas analysing even those relationships you realise that everything always has to start somewhere. Everything has a beginning – a first encounter.
Sometimes meeting new people is an informal thing and sometimes not. Sometimes it’s a group activity day organised by the powers high up at work to boost sales by strengthening team morale. Sometimes it’s a friend introducing you to a mutual friend and as a result you all having to try and find common ground.
But what is the default setting amongst these type of encounters? It’s the need to
Break the Ice.
Breaking the ice is often used to describe trying to make small dents in the citadel of a introductory social meeting. It is the act of trying to make thing less awkward , to get things going .
But are things always so frosty? Where did breaking the ice come from ?
It is thought that the saying originated back when shipping was the main mode of both transportation and trade. Naturally shipping in the winter was hindered by the cold weather and port harbours would lose out on trade due to ships being frozen in ice at sea. The trading town would send out small ships known as “ice breakers” to sail towards the frozen cargo , thus creating a break in the ice behind it and forming a path for the frozen ship to follow back to the port. And so breaking the ice came about. Ice breakers- the small ships sent out to rescue the frozen trade ships – allowed the port harbours to continue to trade and thrive throughout winter months.
Simon and Garfunkel once said that : ” No one dared disturb the sound of silence,” but alas all they needed was a good ice breaker !