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To Build Connection on Your Team, Skip Icebreakers and Talk About Photography

Imagine looking at a photo of a single shoe on the sidewalk, or two people embracing, or a person walking alone into a cemetery. All these images instantly ignite emotions and associations — without a written or spoken word. And because the reaction is physiological, it happens in seconds.

As a facilitator, I’ve found that photos can create connections between people faster — and more profoundly — than any other icebreaker or team-building activity I’ve ever used. And because the response photos evoke is natural, leaders with no facilitation experience can use photos to turn many team interactions into an opportunity to create connection and accelerate collaboration.

Why does a photo create a feeling of connection? Thank biology. And hormones.

Human communication has existed for more than 30,000 years, but written communication has been around for only 3,700. As a result, our brains had a lot of time to become hardwired to recognize and interpret visual information. This is useful considering that 90% of all the information that comes to the brain is visual. And since our survival often depended on it, we got good at doing it quickly.

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