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A few years ago at a company new hire introduction, each of us was to go up to the front and tell “which movie we like best” and “something special about us.”

So I went to the front, and spoke in front of everybody, and I said, I liked the movie “Life of Pi,” and nobody said a single word. It was rather silent.

And two minutes later, another guy who seemed to be good with people, he went up, and he said, “I like action movies, and I like the movie Die Hard.” And people cheered with “Ooooooooooh!” and “Whewooooooooooh!” and it seemed like the whole audience was on fire.

I really don’t understand the mechanics. Is it true that we need to give something for people to react to? Him by saying he likes an action movie and people wonder what it is, and when he said, “Die Hard,” then people can identify and “think” (or react) “It really is an action movie!” and cheered loudly?

While when I said “Life of Pi,” people had nothing to react to, except perhaps “Why does he like this movie?”

What really happened and is there some technique or study or research about this?

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    Life of pi was an universal flop not many people liked. Fine if you did, but die hard certainly has more fans. I participated in a similar event at work recently and I assume many others do as well. I think a lot of people here can help you, but you have to ask your question right: it's great to have an example, but you are only asking for an explanation. It would be very specific to each person reacting. And we can't tell you why some guy did some thing that one time, you'd have to ask them. Maybe ask: "How to be more interesting at events like this" or whatever your goal is – Raditz_35 Apr 5 '20 at 10:45
  • @Raditz_35 It is at these moments when I feel upset at my stomach: "How to be more interesting at events like this". On the one hand, we were told to be individuals, to respect other people, to respect people being different from us. And on the other hand, we are told not to mention a real movie that we like, but "to be more interesting at events like this". Both movies had over a half million people voting on IMDB.com and they are both near a rating of 8.0, so I don't know what "big difference" there are – nonopolarity Apr 5 '20 at 20:06
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    @Raditz_35 Ummm... Life of Pi was a box office hit, earned 5x its budget, got 11 nominations and won a golden globe. Which group of people is this you refer to of which "not many people liked"? I am puzzled by your comment. As far as Die Hard having more fans, I agree with. Although I would never mention that movie as a favorite, in the setting OP mentioned. Must be a strange crowd. – Stian Yttervik Apr 6 '20 at 8:40
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    Normally, I'd say this is about knowing your audience, but since this is an introduction you can't know what your audience would like. Also, consider that it's possible that "Die Hard" fans are more likely to cheer on another fan, whereas "Life of Pi" fans might quietly nod to themselves. (In any case, the idea of these kind of introductions is to give people a talking point when they later mingle, so pretending to like something you don't could backfire.) – Llewellyn Apr 22 '20 at 20:33
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    @Raditz_35 "Life of pi was an universal flop not many people liked" where do you get this from? According to a Google search the movie was very well reviewed and successful. It won several awards in the US imdb.com/title/tt0454876/awards – hectorpepper Apr 23 '20 at 7:20
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I can't speak to any particular research or study about this dynamic (I'm not even sure how that would be studied), but I can try to give you insight into what happened, and ways to handle that situation in the future.

The reason that people reacted to his answer enthusiastically is because it revealed something in common that they could bond over. Die Hard is a very popular movie that a lot of people have seen and that many of those people like. That gives them an opportunity to show agreement and shared interest, which is fun for people.

The likely reason they didn't respond to your answer the same way is that Life of Pi just isn't as well known, and while many people think it is a good movie, it isn't one that people react to as strongly. What response could a person give to you if they haven't seen that movie?

Of course it's perfectly fine for you to like movies that aren't very well known. In fact I think it is a more interesting answer than Die Hard is since it is a much less common answer.

If you find yourself in that kind of situation you have a few options (I've listed them from what I think is worst to best):

  1. You can name a different thing as being your favorite that you think other people will relate to more. This is a kind of lie that some people are uncomfortable with, and you risk the chance of being asked follow up questions you may not have an answer to (Why do you like it? What was your favorite part? etc.). Personally I don't recommend this approach, but it is an option.
  2. You can make up an obviously fake answer to dodge the question. I have a coworker who hates these kinds of questions, so when he is asked to respond to them, he says something ridiculous so that he doesn't have to engage with it. I personally find this irritating, and it requires some quick thinking to come up with something that is ridiculous enough to ensure that no one takes you seriously, but it is an approach that I've seen people take.
  3. You can preface your answer with something like, "I know this isn't a popular opinion, but my favorite is..." Then the lack of response isn't as awkward because you are acknowledging that you aren't expecting much agreement.
  4. You can give your answer to that question, and then move quickly onto the next thing to reduce the amount of awkward silence that occurs. If you are prompted for multiple responses, end with the one that you think will get the best response so that you can leave on a high note. This only works when you have another thing to move onto that will get a better response, so this isn't always possible.
  5. My personal favorite approach is to not care about people's responses to these kinds of questions. Most of the time people don't remember the answers people give to these questions, particularly ones that no one responded to. Ask yourself, do you remember other people's awkward moments from work? Do those things make you think less of that person? I know that I don't.

The fact that you are still thinking about this years later suggests to me that you have troubles with self-confidence in social situations like this. If that is something you struggle with, you may want to consider ways of practicing these skills by taking a public speaking class, an acting class, or some other outlet to practice being confident in front of others.

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“Is it true that we need to give something for people to react to?”

No. Don’t worry about it.

Always be true to yourself.

It is not your job to say what people want to hear when you express your now personal tastes. A new hire introduction is just that; a way of getting to know new hires. And their reaction to you might have been silent but that doesn’t mean it’s negative: For all you know someone went back to their desks and looked up info on “Life of Pi” after you spoke.

And if somehow your co-workers give you grief later on in your career at that company for saying you like that film, just double down by saying something like:

“I like that film… You like what you like… We’re all trying to work together.”

You already have the job and your interpersonal skills at work should just really encompass the scope of your ability to do work and get along with your co-workers so you can work as team.

If somehow co-workers impede your ability to do work because you said you liked “Life of Pi” then that is — to be blunt — stupid and actually a human resource issue.

Co-workers need to work together to get the job done; not avoid work because they don’t agree with someone’s personal tastes in film or other things that have 1,000,000% nothing to do with the workplace.

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    "your ability to do work" (as you say) doesn't mean that you'll be able to work in (and as) a team. You seem to value it as the main criteria, but I think that OP is asking about "company culture" too, and the difference is just huge. To me, you're giving a real but very dangerous advice here: "No. Don’t worry about it.". – OldPadawan Apr 24 '20 at 6:03
  • @OldPadawan “To me, you're giving a real but very dangerous advice here≥…” Utter nonsense. If the “culture” really behaves in a way where an employee is asked to share a movie they like but then they are chastised for not sharing a movie everyone likes — as if the person should be a mind reader and be able to predict what others like — that is honestly insane. The vast majority of “getting to know you” events like these in companies are not taken seriously and mostly forgotten within minutes of them occurring. – Giacomo1968 Apr 24 '20 at 12:51
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    this actually might be true... what other people reacted to you, don't worry too much about it. Perhaps don't even remember it. These things do give you bad feelings, but Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, along with other 23 people applied for a job at Kentucky Fried Chicken (as a food preparer), and he was the only one that got rejected. So people treat you differently one reason or another. A person who goes through the jungle can encounter all sorts of weird animals. The important thing is you come out healthy and shining. – nonopolarity Jul 12 '20 at 17:31
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Back when they existed, I had an interview at a video rental store. The manager asked what my favorite movie was. I responded honestly with a cult science fiction. I never heard back from the store. A friend pointed out that they probably wanted to hear something popular and new, that everyone was hyped up about.

So to answer your question, I can think of a few reasons

  1. Die Hard is simply more well known than Life Of Pi. It has been around a lot longer and has a famous cast.
  2. Life of Pi explores moral values and principals. Some people prefer not to share personal opinions in the workplace, and a movie like Die Hard which only focuses on the action makes this easier.
  3. There is pack mentality. If one person cheers, other people are more likely to do so. There have been studies about conformity in groups.
  4. His favorite movie may have not actually been Die Hard, but he knew other people liked it and wanted to say something popular.
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  • "His favorite movie may have not actually been Die Hard, but he knew other people liked it and wanted to say something popular." when I watch some stories on TV, it is sometimes people don't say what the truth is, but say "what people want to hear", or "the people that matters, what they want to hear", or "the people who can bring me benefits and money or cause me to get more of that, what do they want to hear" – nonopolarity Dec 18 '20 at 10:41

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