Talking to new people and making friends is a big part of your first few weeks in university, and for some, this can be quite scary. I am going to be sharing with you some advice and tips to make starting and conversing in conversations easier. The best part is this advice is transferable to any situation, not just university. And hey! Even if you think you are excellent at making conversations you may find that you learn something new so that you can improve even more!
Step 1: Finding a person/people to speak to
It is important to remember that as a fresher nobody knows anyone, so you are all in the same boat. If you are feeling nervous about making new friends, there will definitely be multiple people in your year that are feeling exactly the same.
Usually, your first chance to talk to new people are those in your accommodation but this is definitely not your only opportunity. You could talk to people at the start/end of class, those in your work groups or at clubs and societies. You could approach 1 person to talk to, after all they are probably looking for someone to talk to too. Or you could approach a group of people if you’re worried about keeping a conversation going.
Step 2: Starting the conversation
I am sure you already know that the best way to start a conversation with someone new is to introduce yourself e.g. ‘’Hello, my name is X’’. You could then follow it up with a bit more info about yourself and/or a question e.g. ‘’Hello my name is X. I am living in accommodation Y. What accommodation are you living in?’’. This way you are inviting the other person to make conversation back. There are multiple topics you could start a conversation on and here are a few ideas:
· Where in the country/world are you from?
· What are you most excited to start/try at uni?
· What societies/ clubs are you interested in?
· What did you think of that lesson?
· Do you have any pets?
· What are your hobbies?
· Anything related to the club/society you are at.
· Compliment them or something they own.
It is important to try and pick a topic that both parties can talk quite a bit about but don’t worry if you cannot find one. You can just move onto a different topic.
Talking to someone new can be nerve wracking so if you do this step then well done! You are past the scariest part!
Tip: Since you all attend the same university it will be easy to find a shared experience that you can talk about e.g. what do you think of the food, I found that lesson hard. Shared experiences are good to use as a conversation topic as both parties will have opinions on it and it can be elaborated on to increase the depth of the conversation. All while getting to know the other person more!
Step 3: Keeping the conversation going
This can be the hardest part and can leave both you and the other party feeling awkward if the conversation dries up. So, a few tactics you can use are:
· Topic choice: Like we have talked about above, choosing a topic that you can both talk about and can be expanded upon.
· Changing topics: It isn’t always possible to have a topic that has a lot of depth and the conversation can get a bit boring if you are only talking about one thing (unless you both seem passionate about it and it looks like you have lots to say). You could lead from one topic to another or circle back to something that was mentioned before e.g.
A) ‘’Do you have any hobbies?’’
B) ‘’Yes, I enjoy horse riding and going to the cinema.’’
A) ‘’I enjoy horse riding too….’’ (can talk about horses for a bit and if you think that topic is drying up you can then switch to something that was mentioned before)
A) ‘’You mentioned you like going the cinema, what do you recommend/have you seen.../ what movies are you looking forwards too.’’
· Open ended questions: Try to use open ended questions as much as possible, this helps keep the conversation flowing. Same goes for you too! Try your best to expand on your answers rather than just saying yes or no. Of course, some questions only require a yes or a no and that’s okay too.
· Active listening: If the other party doesn’t feel your listening or interested, they may give up on the conversation and it wouldn’t be very nice if it were the other way round. Look at them when they are talking and maybe nod your head or raise your eyebrows when they speak so they know you are engaged and listening.