So, you’re back on campus this fall. Maybe it’s every day, maybe it’s only a few days a week — but, either way, here you are. And you’re stoked.
It feels like it’s been forever! You’re more motivated, you’re setting goals and you’re absorbing course material much better than you did online. It’s so nice, in fact, that you don’t even mind commuting on the crowded TTC in the mornings.
There’s just one problem: you’ve, like, kinda forgotten how to talk to people.
The barista tells you to enjoy your drink and you say, “You too!” Someone holds the door open for you and you say, “You’re welcome.” Like, it’s rough out here. You need conversation tips — stat.
Lucky for you, that’s exactly what IGNITE’s for. Here are 10 ways to spark conversation with just about anyone on campus:
1. Start with a compliment
The easiest way to start off on the right foot with someone new? Flattery, of course!
Tell the person next to you at the bus stop you love their haircut. Congratulate your new group-mate on their killer presentation.
The world could always use a little more kindness. Just, don’t overdo it — there is such a thing as too much complimenting.
2. Share your discomfort
You know how professors always say, “If you have a question, ask it; other people probably have the same question?” The same rule applies for emotions.
That means if you’re feeling awkward, a little lonely and kind of uncomfortable trying to make new friends, there’s a good chance whoever you’re trying to make friends with feels the same way.
You can spark instant connections by naming how you feel.
3. Bring up a hot topic
If you’re struggling to talk to people because you don’t know what to talk about, bring up something nearly everyone knows about. Awards shows, pop culture happenings or major sporting events are all great icebreakers.
4. Ask a question
And not something with an easy yes-or-no answer. People love being asked about themselves — try inquiring about what someone is studying or, if you’re in class together, what they think of the lesson.
5. Perform a random act of kindness
Hold the door open for someone or pick up their book they dropped. You can never go wrong with a kind first impression.
6. Bond over shared interests
Is someone wearing your favourite artist’s merch? Sporting a gym bag with your favourite team’s logo? Let them know!
It’s always easier to start a conversation when you’re both interested in the topic.
7. Mention something common to both of you
OK, maybe the stranger you want to talk to isn’t wearing anything that indicates a shared interest. But you’re both on campus, aren’t you?
Sometimes all you need to get a conversation going is the most basic shared circumstance.
“Is this your first semester back in classrooms?” “Are you excited about studying in person again?” “Don’t you love how the fall leaves look on campus?”
8. Solicit opinions
Questions are reliably great conversation starters. And, by asking someone for advice or for their opinion on something, you’re indirectly telling them you view them as knowledgeable.
“I’ve never gotten food here before. What’s the best thing on the menu?”
9. Open your body language
While the old adage, “Ninety-three per cent of communication is non-verbal,” is kind of a myth, there’s no doubt in scientists’ minds that a significant portion of conversation is contained in body language and tone of voice.
Once you’ve delivered your opening line, show you’re interested in having a conversation by smiling, turning your feet towards the person and removing objects between the two of you.
10. Just be honest
At the end of the day, nothing works better than simply introducing yourself. (We know, we know — “be yourself” is the oldest advice in the book. But clichés are clichés for a reason!)
“Hey, I’m [your name]. I’m back on campus for the first time in a while this semester and I’m feeling awkward being around people again. Do you want to grab a coffee?”
Now, go get ’em, tiger.
Still studying online? Here’s how to make friends in the virtual landscape.