Two Truths and a Lie

Two Truths and a Lie Featured Image

Since I’m just a couple of weeks away from orientation, I thought it might be fun to talk about my disdain for icebreakers. In particular, I want to talk about Two Truths and a Lie because I think it embodies everything that I hate about icebreakers.

Table of Contents

Two Truths and a Lie Rules

Two Truths and a LieOpens in a new tab. is an icebreaker where the rules are the name of the game. Each person in a group is responsible for coming up with two truths and a lie about themselves. Then, each person takes a turn to reveal their three statements, and people they’ve never met have to guess which statement is the lie.

Sometimes this game is combined with other icebreakers to make it more interesting. For instance, I’ve seen it played where the three statements are written on a piece of paper and tossed around the room. Each person then has to pick up a paper ball and attempt to guess the lie.

Regardless, the goal of the game is to get to know the people around you.

Introverts Hate this Game

As a self-diagnosed introvert, I absolutely hate Two Truths and a Lie. In my experience, this game is always incredibly awkward for everyone involved.

Picking Three Statements

Think about it. You have to come up with three statements about yourself that are just interesting enough to make you stand out but not so interesting as to make you weird. Do you get what I’m saying? Let’s look at a few examples:

The Safe But Boring Option

Most people who play this game will opt for the safe option. Pick three things that are pretty normal but tell people nothing about your personality:

  1. I have a sister
  2. I have two cats
  3. I own an Xbox

In this scenario, no one can possibly guess which one of these is the lie because they don’t reveal anything about you. That said, it’s safe, and many people opt for this option.

Unfortunately, that defeats the entire point of the game, and it makes for a really boring icebreaker.

The Risky but Interesting Option

Alternatively, you can opt for the risky option. Pick three things that are likely unique to you but run the risk of marking you as weird:

  1. I am a registered Amateur Radio Operator
  2. I’ve traveled to six countries
  3. I have a Junior Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do

Notice how these options are a lot more interesting. In fact, any of these could be conversation starters.

Of course, you risk being outed as weird for whatever reason. Maybe some people automatically think you’re quite privileged now because of you may have traveled a lot. Perhaps others think you’re weird because you have a hobby that lost its popularity fifty years ago.

Guessing the Lie

Now that we’ve had the chance to look at some examples, try flipping the scenario. Instead of coming up with two truths and a lie, let’s try guessing some lies.

Jeremy, The Nerdy White Guy

Let’s start by using me as an example:

  1. My favorite sports team is the Pittsburgh Penguins
  2. I run a blog called The Renegade Coder
  3. I have traveled to Spain and Portugal

What would be your first guess? Would it be #1? If so, that’s a pretty good guess. After all, all you have to go on is my physical appearance. If I appear to be a nerdy white guy, then you might just assume I don’t watch sports.

What about #2? As it turns, I do run this website. To someone I might be meeting for the first time, they couldn’t possibly know that. Do you think they’d just assume I’d have a coding blog based on my appearance?

In reality, I’ve never been to Spain or Portugal. While I’ve done some traveling, I’ve never been to either of those places.

Alex, The Tattooed Hispanic Guy

Let’s kick things up a bit with a slightly more touchy example. The following are Alex’s statements:

  1. My favorite food is spaghetti
  2. I love to swim
  3. I grew up in Ecuador

Obviously, there’s no way this guy’s favorite food is spaghetti, right? Nope, Alex loves spaghetti, and he even loves to swim.

In reality, Alex grew up in the United States. I guess we assumed he was telling the truth about Ecuador because he looked Hispanic.

Rachel, The Tall Black Woman

Let’s look at one last example:

  1. I love to play basketball
  2. My favorite sports team is the Cleveland Indians
  3. I’m studying to become a lawyer

Based purely on appearance, you’re probably going to guess either #2 or #3. After all, Rachel definitely plays basketball, right?

Once again, we’re wrong. Rachel doesn’t play basketball, but she does love to watch some baseball. And, she’s even studying to be a lawyer.

Judgement All Around

As you can see, I really don’t like this game. Not only is selecting three statements pretty stressful as an introvert, but guessing lies can be awkward too. No one wants to be seen as weird—let alone a bigot.

That said, clearly I’m overthinking such a simple game. Honestly, I know that no one really even cares about the icebreaker, and I know most people will forget what was said shortly after the game. However, I can’t help but feel some anxiety anytime I have to deal with Two Truths and a Lie.

If there are any icebreakers in the coming weeks, I hope they’re quick and painless.

Journey to a PhD (49 Articles)—Series Navigation

As my current career trajectory shifts away from engineering, I find myself in a peculiar position as a PhD student. As I explore the latest concepts in Computer Science, you can find that journey documented here in my series titled Journey to a PhD.

Jeremy Grifski

Jeremy grew up in a small town where he enjoyed playing soccer and video games, practicing taekwondo, and trading Pokémon cards. Once out of the nest, he pursued a Bachelors in Computer Engineering with a minor in Game Design. After college, he spent about two years writing software for a major engineering company. Then, he earned a master's in Computer Science and Engineering. Today, he pursues a PhD in Engineering Education in order to ultimately land a teaching gig. In his spare time, Jeremy enjoys spending time with his wife, playing Overwatch and Phantasy Star Online 2, practicing trombone, watching Penguins hockey, and traveling the world.

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