Uh oh. It’s that time of year again. The “I’ll-just-be-friendly-with-everybody-because-I-have-no-work!! ” phase has subsided, and first-years are finally settling into comfortable friend groups. While on the one hand, sticking with your buds is relieving and takes a lot less energy than putting in the effort to constantly try to make new friends, it’s really important to remember that there are people who may not be as comfortable as you and could benefit a whole lot from a few inclusive efforts on your part.
So here we are again, with practical tips and tricks to help you out! We promise they’re really easy, and will not only brighten others’ days but your own too.
Always save an open seat or spot
When you’re sitting at a table or standing in a circle, chatting about how the Sherman toaster is yet again broken (and all you want is that bagel) or you’re venting about how the trek up Rabb steps is getting old, remember to pull over an empty chair (or if you’re standing, leave some room between yourself and the person next to you) to send out the signal that you’re open to anyone joining. There’s nothing more intimidating than trying to join a closed off circle of people, and there’s nothing better than gaining a new voice to your venting session.
2. The thirty-second recap
This one’s a biggy! When you’ve succeeded in helping someone feel comfy joining your circle (props to you!), make sure that they can be an active participant by giving them a thirty-second recap of the conversation they just joined. Honestly, the recap is usually helpful to everyone who was part of the original conversation (especially if they were totally spacing out!!).
3. No arms crossed!
Arms crossed = intimidating vibe. This might not be an equation on your calc midterm next week, but we promise it’s as true as l’hopital’s rule. So just keep your arms to your sides and reap the benefits!
4. Don’t be a shoulder slump
Shoulders are really important! When you’re standing and talking to a group of people, make sure that at one of your shoulders is facing outward so that people feel welcome to join the conversation. And, make sure that no one in the circle sees your shoulders–always be mindful to take a step back, so that everyone has their healthy dose of personal space and feels part of the conversation.
5. Make eye contact
Yes, we know, eye contact is one of those things everyone always talks about but no one actually pays attention to in their day to day lives. But it’s super important! When you’re the one talking (go you!!) make sure to be making eye contact with EVERYONE who’s participating, not just your best friends or the loud talkers in the conversation.
6. Pay attention to everyone else’s body language
Yep! We just flipped it on you. If someone looks uncomfortable (arm crossing ftl–for the lose!) maybe it’s a good time to change the conversation topic. Ice cream sandwiches anyone?
7. Make sure the topic of conversation is relevant to everyone
Sometimes, even the best body-language detectors can’t tell when someone’s uncomfortable. But if your friend isn’t speaking up as much as usual, it may be because the topic of conversation isn’t one he or she can actively participate in. We know that you and your four besties went to the same camp and just LOVED your counselor, but maybe it’s time to change the topic when someone else joins. When in doubt, just bring up the fun facts we all have about Louis D. Brandeis! (Seriously though, he was a cool dude)
Keep up the good work, buds! And when you make lots of new friends, you know who to thank ;)
(All gifs courtesy of GIPHY.com)