Hello Fellow and Future Escapers,
No, unfortunately today’s topic will not be about the critically acclaimed Netflix series. However, we will be discussing something that some people may find just as scary as a monster from another dimension: going into an escape room with strangers. I want to share with you why I think it is very rewarding to try escape rooms with strangers and what you can do to make it less awkward or worrisome.
As you may or may not know, if you are not booking a Corporate Booking or selecting the private event option, then the tickets you do not purchase will be available for anyone else to buy. Or maybe you’ve bought tickets to a session that already had some tickets booked. Congratulations! You are (likely) doing an escape room with strangers.
You arrive 15 minutes early for your booking and notice that the other people in the lobby are going to be your teammates. What should you do? Why, of course, use that time to introduce yourselves! Share names and handshakes. Ask them if they’ve ever done an escape room before. Ask if they have any strategies, or share your own. You’ve assembled this day as a rag-tag fellowship to tackle a challenge none of you have ever faced before; why wouldn’t you at least introduce yourselves?
Now I know it can be daunting to remember the names of all the new people you just met, but here are two tactics I recommend trying:
Repeat their name as many times as possible.
For example: “Nice to meet you, Damien, my name is Craig. Wait, Damien, right? Have you ever done an escape room before, Damien?
Bonus tip: You can help out your teammates remember you and your friends’ names by also saying your friends’ names when talking to each other. “Let’s go grab something to eat after we escape, Hugo.”
Mentally associate the person with someone you know with the same name.
For example: “Oh, I have a cousin named Joseph, so it shouldn’t be hard for me to remember.” Then just picture that cousin in your mind every time you interact with your teammate. If you don’t know anyone by that name, try using a celebrity or TV show character.
Here are a few things I would suggest not to do. And just like the things you should do, you will need to consciously pay attention. I’ve seen more than enough teams start off strong with introductions, but then very quickly revert to how they subconsciously feel.
Don’t interact only with the people with whom you came. Yelling to the team you found something does not count as interacting with the other strangers; you will actually need to talk or work with them one on one or in small groups.
Don’t snatch things out of their hands or muscle your way into trying a solution before they have a chance to finish trying their own. If you feel you’ve figured out the answer, why not just tell them it and let them try it out? It doesn’t make a difference who opens the lock; what matters is if the entire team completes their objectives and escapes.
Now I know what many of you are probably subconsciously afraid of. What if they are weird? What if they are bad at puzzles? What if they aren’t nice people? Well, I’ll let you know that they aren’t weird, they aren’t bad at puzzles, and they are nice people. They’re just like you, and they have the same fears. So it's in everyone’s best interest to resolve those fears when you first meet.
We’ve seen teams that enter the room as strangers but leave as friends. I’ve seen a group of adults invite their teammates to get drinks after they finished the challenge just so they could all discuss the puzzles. I’ve seen two young boys exchange their gamertags so they could party up in Halo later. I’ve even seen (and heard) a choir group sing “Happy Birthday” to a group of friends who were celebrating a birthday.
I consider the escape rooms that I have done with strangers to be the most rewarding. With friends, family, or coworkers, I know their strengths and weaknesses (even if I don’t consciously acknowledge them). I already face challenges, big and small, in my everyday life with friends, family, and coworkers. Escape rooms are one of the only places I have the opportunity to work with strangers. I find it really rewarding when I manage to solve puzzles and even escape with people I’ve never met before. I hope you take the chance to enjoy the opportunity as much as I do.
Comment below and share with us what things you do to break the ice when you are working with a new team.
Until your next mission,
Bonus Challenge: Can you figure out the game that several of the agents have been playing recently based off all the names used in this article?