Saturday, September 17, 2011

R-Rated Icebreakers At Work

Most of people, including myself, would have painted a rather conservative portrait for a Chinese. Then, unfortunately, we are probably all wrong. 

In the US, icebreakers, as the names suggests, are often designed to "break the ice" at an event or meeting, to help the meeting attendees get to know each other.  For example, when Don, my previous boss, held his meetings, he usually used icebreakers like “What’s you last vacation destination?” “Tell us something we don’t know about you.”

Compared to the icebreakers used among the co-workers in Tencent, these questions are nothing but lame. 

Ross, my current boss and a bunch of us went out for a drink after work one day.  A game, similar to “the unfortunate kid “ in the US, was promptly selected as a icebreaker for the team.  Basically, each player takes turns to name one thing he or she has never done before.  If any one of the rest of the player has done it before, they need to take a sip of their drink as a publishment. 

If you think this is a friendly game for co-workers to get to know each other, especially the new comers, you are just way too naïve.  The game is pretty much a trap for the new comers, as every single question will probably make you embarrassed, wishing to have a side door to escape. 

The first one said, “I have never had sex with people from other countries.” So, I raised my hand and took a sip of my drink, and mentally getting prepared to sip through the first round of questions and calling it a quit as soon as I could.

When it’s my boss’ turn, he said,” I never wear a bra with size bigger than B”.  So, I raised my hand again and took a sip of my drink.

To our most astonishment, a guy also raised his hand and took a sip of his drink. 

I am not sure whether my years-of-living-in-the US has outdated me of the current Chinese culture, or being this crazy and nuts is the thing with the SNS companies. 

They told me that if I think Tencent is bad, then Alibaba is worse, as one of their common icebreakers is “Where did you do it the first time and what position?!”

Another speechless moment of working in China…

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