The most difficult thing about college is starting a new life, with new friends, all of whom you know little to nothing about. It is hard to put yourself out there and talk to people just because you want to. I’ve been told by many people that they wish they could just start up and hold conversations the way I do, a skill I never knew I possessed until these people began to point it out to me. I always shrug it off because I love to talk, and I’m sure that people are sick of hearing me tell stories about how I got lost on the street adjacent to mine while out on a run, or the occasional reiteration of one of the many stories from my father’s wild childhood. I’m going to take this opportunity to talk about the art of conversation and how to put yourself out there in not only college, but in life.
Be confident. The most cliche tip I’m going to give during this entire article is to be more confident. Sure, you’ve heard it and you’re wondering how the heck you are supposed to be a walking stud like my man Tony Stark in the Iron Man movies. Don’t worry, I already know that no one can realistically reach the level of confidence that Robert Downey Jr. possesses, but you can definitely learn to play the part. Approaching someone and introducing yourself to them is one of the best things you can do to make friends. Confidence is attractive in a friend, partner, and potential employee. Like street poet and philosopher Kanye West once said, “I am the number one living and breathing rock star.” Be your own kind of rock star.
Be interesting. Join a club, go to concerts, watch television shows and movies, listen to different types of music, anything you can think of. Have something to talk about beyond the initial ‘Hello’. You don’t have to be the same major as someone for them to be interested in what you have to say. If you have something you enjoy or something you stand for, that you could talk about for a long time, you will have no problem keeping people engaged.
Listen. You can talk for hours about yourself– everyone thinks they are the most interesting thing to happen since the 2016 election. But talking about yourself as if you’re the 2016 election will end the same way; like a train wreck. You can certainly talk about yourself, but listen to what the other person has to say. Be interested in them, or at least pretend to be. Ask questions about the things they’re interested in. Find out things about them, get them to open up a bit (and not in an emotional way, just find out things they enjoy). Smile and nod, stay engaged otherwise they’re going to think that you want to be doing anything other than talking to them. Never give off that impression or it will be returned to you.
Now, I’m not saying that three tips are going to make you the best conversationalist on campus, let alone the world. But I do hope these tips have helped you to become more aware of the things you could do, or emphasize to hold a conversation for more than a couple of minutes. Remember, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! People love it when others start conversations with them, as everyone is just as nervous to make friends as you are. Don’t be discouraged by the kid who didn’t (or pretended not to) hear you when you said your name to them before math class. Just stay confident, and the world will be at your feet.