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How to Talk to People

It turns out that talking to people you don’t know is SUPER SCARY. It also turns out that making friends in a room where you don’t know anyone is a really valuable skill, musician or not. And especially if you’re still in your first couple weeks of college, talking to people you don’t know is a really good thing to do! That’s how I met most of my best friends – that’s how you meet people at all. So here are some bona fide  Talking Tips from a bona fide Introvert who Talks Too Much.

Don’t be afraid to say hi. If you can screw up five seconds of courage, you can meet a new person. Sometimes just starting the conversation can be the hardest part. If you can get yourself to say hi, or to make a comment about the weather, or ask about the band on their shirt (for example) then you can have a conversation.

A compliment starts a conversation really well! “Your shirt is really cool” is how I’ve made a couple friends. “Your hair looks great!” was how I met a couple more. If you see someone who obviously put effort into something, or who seems to share an interest in something with you, mention it. Most people will be happy to talk about themselves and their passions for as long as you’d like.

Everyone else also wants friends. Most people really do like having friends. People in new environments especially like to seek out familiarity by making a new buddy. If you’re worried that they won’t want to talk, you might as well try – more than likely they also want to talk to people, but don’t know how to make the first move. Just try to keep an eye out for cues that they’re uncomfortable or uninterested, and you’ll be golden.

No one judges you as much as you do. I promise, as long as you aren’t wandering around wearing a gorilla suit and a tutu, most people are WAY more focused on themselves than they are on you. All of the worrying you do over whether your shoes look okay, or the weird way you said that word, or whatever, is distracting you from the fact that everyone else is worrying about basically the exact same things. And they’re so busy worrying that they will never ever notice those things about you.

Be open to people. If you’re still not quite able to make yourself go talk to people, that’s okay. There are tons of other people out there who talk first anyway. You just need to keep an eye out for it. The next time someone asks how your day is, don’t just say “fine.” Say “pretty good, I got a good grade this morning.” The trick is to keep the conversation moving. One word answers are the quickest way to end a conversation, so don’t use them. Full sentences and little facts about yourself, plus questions about the other person, will keep a conversation going as long as the other person wants.

Talking can be hard, I know. But once you get going, it’s not as scary as you’d think. And a bunch of conversations over the course of time is how you make friends. You’ve got this. Go talk and make friends.

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