No matter your mastery of the English language, sometimes conversation just sucks. The next time YOU approach a new SUBJECT AND POTENTIAL FRIEND, there are a few tricks to remember. First, start off simple, with an introduction, for example:

YOU: Hello, I’m [insert your name here].

THE SUBJECT will respond, and you would do well to allow time for a handshake, fist bump, hug or awkward wave. Only one of these will occur, never try to do all four, and make sure to read body movement to figure out which it’ll be. (If you make a mistake, you are allowed to laugh awkwardly, or shuffle away. Pick the one that suits you best.)

Next is a good time for basic questions, such as:

YOU: What year are you in? What are you studying? Where are you from? Etc.

(Do not ask all of these questions at once, to avoid confusion.)

When THE SUBJECT answers, state your enthusiasm and/or interest. If there is any correlation, you are entitled to add a noise of excitement and an exclamation of joy, such as “Oh my God, me too!”

Please note that for all these questions, it is likely you will be asked the same in return. Prepare your answers accordingly.

If no common interests have arisen between you and THE SUBJECT by this point, you are entitled to ask several more questions that may lead to social interaction. For example:

YOU: Why did you come to MtA? How about this weather? What’s your blood type? Have you seen any good movies lately? Etc.

If nothing develops, you may either pretend that you: a) see someone you know b) are late for some arbitrary event, or c) have received an important textual message, and continue to stare at your phone as though it contained all the world’s secrets.

Alternatively, if you are trying to strike up a conversation with AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE, conversation may be started by excitedly shouting the person’s name in lieu of an introduction. If it is a close acquaintance, hugs are permitted.

Replace all basic questions with the following:

YOU: How was your summer? (With appropriate amounts of enthusiasm.)

Listen in interest to THE OLD ACQUAINTANCE’S answer and, if nothing else is available to say at the end, go with a simple: “Better than essays!”

Expect to be asked the same question in return. Remember to keep all answers to a relatively short length: no one really cares.

In the case of AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE, conversations may also be ended with  the same exit strategies as with THE SUBJECT.

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