I came across this somewhere on the internet about a month ago. I’m pretty sure it was on Twitter but I’m unable to find the source to credit (sorry!).
The theory is that when we are engaging with new people (networking event, etc) or perhaps catching up with an old friend, some of the regular questions you might ask is “tell me something interesting about yourself?” Or the classic “so, what do you do?” Or “what are you up to, nowadays?”
By default these questions put the responder in a position where they might feel like they have to prove something or be impressive. It can cause this weird social anxiety (think 25 year high school reunion where there is this invisible pressure to “be successful”, whatever that is).
My new go to icebreaker is “tell me something boring about yourself”. First of all, when you pose the question most people laugh because they have never heard it before. Secondly, the answers can actually be pretty surprising. At the end of the day it’s really the little boring things that make up who we are.
Hi, I’m Bryan. I had oatmeal for breakfast today.