Make Contact, Make Friends!

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Fresher or a third year. Your university life is likely to involve a lot of socialising.

There is no perfect way to blossom as a social butterfly, but there is plenty you can do when getting to know new people at uni. Here are a few things to remember for getting friendly with new people in a new academic year:

  • You’re in the same boat – You’re equal and you’re looking for new people to talk to. So go forth and talk. Can you be sure they want to find new people to speak with? In most cases, yes Yes YES!
    Fresher or third year, remember? Every new academic year brings new opportunities. Returning students are welcome to re-Fresh.
  • Take easy opportunities – When you’re standing in queues to register for things, don’t look down at your phone or dig your face in all your reading material. Strike up a conversation with others in the queue around you! If you’re sitting down for an induction talk or similar, say hi to those sitting next to you. These are easy opportunities because you aren’t making a determined move toward anyone, you’re staying just where you are.
    And while lots of things can be done online and in the comfort of your own digs, there’s a lot to be said for plonking yourself on campus and showing your face a bit.
  • Listen, listen and listen – People like to talk about themselves. It’s easy. Ask questions and let the answers flow. If you’re asked a question, great! Just don’t go nuts. Let them have another turn. Not only do people like talking, they like to be listened to.
  • Friends come in all different shapes and sizes – Don’t expect to find your best friend on the moment you hit campus. Don’t expect to stay bosom buddies with the first people you spark up a conversation with. Even the people you hooked up with in advance via Facebook won’t necessarily end up being the people you get closest to.
  • So be bold! – Your job is to get out there and enjoy the new experiences at your fingertips. Make the effort to speak to more people and you’ll reap the benefits. The world thrives on communication and, believe it or not, others generally like to help. A casual conversation may offer up all sorts of invitations, suggestions, introductions, and so on. Be bold and let your conversations take you places!
  • Wear a thicker skin – The first couple of weeks in a new academic year provides the biggest and easiest opportunities to randomly walk up to people and say hello. Most of the contact you make will be welcomed by others. On the odd occasion when you’re hit with a rejection, think of how many in-roads you’re making with all the other successful approaches you’ve made. I quoted a Paul McKenna story back in 2007and his story is worth quoting again:
    • “Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. I know. Procrastinators aren’t lazy. They’re scared.” He tells me about a guy he used to envy. “He wasn’t particularly handsome, but he dated more girls than anyone else. I studied him for a while and I figured out that because he was thick-skinned, he asked more girls out than anyone else. And I thought if I up the number of girls I ask out, the down side is that I might be told to F-off more, but the upside is that I might meet the person of my dreams.”

    As a fresher, the situation is less daunting, since most others are looking for new connections too. So grab a thicker skin for a while and tell yourself not to take these small rejections personally. A new year means there’s no baggage and no major cliques yet. There’s no better time to get involved and meet new people.

  • Offer people doughnuts – Looking for a prop to break the ice? Doughnuts are like a cheap round and are appreciated most of the time. Since supermarket doughnuts are usually a pound for 10, you won’t lose much in the process, but you may gain some attention! 🙂

What will you do to get socialising this year?

Doughnuts: a good prop (photo by Stéfan)
Doughnuts: a good prop (photo by Stéfan)

20/20 – Day 3: 20 reasons to listen

It’s good to talk. It’s better to listen.

Want to know why? Listen up:

  1. Listening is a decent, respectful thing to do. And it gets you more respect in the process. Win/Win.
  2. Because people like to talk.
  3. People like to confide in a good listener.
  4. You’re automatically given more credence as a good communicator.
  5. You have more chance of learning something.
  6. Listening doesn’t require much work, but the rewards are plenty.
  7. When you listen, you care about a person’s opinion.
  8. When you listen to someone, that someone is more likely to listen back.
  9. When you hear, you’re aware of the problem.  When you listen, you can discover the underlying causes of the problem.
  10. To listen is to examine.
  11. To listen is to question yourself gladly.
  12. So long as someone knows you’re listening to them, they know you haven’t given up on them.
  13. You can give so much when you offer advice. You can give so much more when you listen.
  14. It’s less arrogant.
  15. It’s more thoughtful.
  16. In a stream of many voices, listening to a single voice is so relaxing.
  17. If you don’t listen, you can’t empathise.
  18. When you listen, you exercise self-control.
  19. It’s often easier to forgive others if you truly listen to them.
  20. People are happier to forgive you if you listen back.

As mentioned in Point 9, listening is about more than hearing something. You have to give thought to what you hear. Digest what’s being communicated to you and react to it positively.  It’s true that listening doesn’t require much work (Point 6), but that doesn’t mean you can be lazy either. A vague nod and a smile won’t cut it.

Thanks for listening. What points have I missed? Please comment below so I can listen to your suggestions too.