blog | 3min Read
Published on May 26, 2022
First week at college? Stuck in a new classroom with no friends? Found yourself at the fresher’s party with zero acquaintances? Trust us, we have been there, and the fear of being stuck on a campus with complete strangers is as real as it gets.
And that’s why, in this month’s newsletter, with the help of Professor Gillian Sandstrom (Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Essex), we take a look at 7 tips to strike up a conversation with complete strangers in college! So say goodbye to the blank stares and awkward silences, and read along!
- Be Brave!
Even if it’s uncomfortable, be brave and just go talk. The person is probably going to like you more than you think and chances are, they too are looking to make new friends on an unfamiliar campus ! You’re both probably going to enjoy the experience more than you think.
- Be Curious!
Research actually suggests that people who ask more questions are better liked by their conversation partners than people who ask fewer questions. For a person that you are just getting to know, there are few things more appealing than feeling heard. So the next time you find someone’s fashion style noteworthy or the points they made in class insightful, ask them about it!
- Go off-script
No one likes a conversation for the sake of having a conversation. Skip that question about the weather and ask something that will make your conversation partner actually stop and think. Like “I can’t believe how crowded the mess is!” or “Wow! Where did you get your phone cover?”
- Find something you have in common
“We tend to overestimate how different people are from us, “Sandstrom says. “In reality, we probably have lots in common, but just don’t know what that is yet.” At the very least, both of you are on the same campus!
- Compliment someone!
When talking with people, we often tend to overthink what we could do wrong. Focusing the attention on the other person in these times helps us get past those awkward spots. And of course, it makes them feel good as well. So next time, don’t hesitate to compliment a person’s hairstyle or their taste in music!
- Don’t let the awkward moments trip you up
“You have to be OK that it might be awkward for a bit,” Sandstrom says. “But if you keep going, hopefully you’ll get to that stage where you’re having a real conversation.” Awkward moments happen, but they are not the end. So let it pass, the conversations will settle and it will be fine!
- Talk more with strangers!
We often fear social rejection, but research shows that people nearly always are willing to engage in a conversation when prompted by someone else. The more you do talk, the more you build your skill and confidence! So whether it’s on the bus or in the mess, just start talking!
Wanna receive guidance from Harvard mentors on how to improve your communication, public speaking, leadership and collaboration skills? Check out Harvard Youth Lead the Change to reach the next level!