It’s time to pack and store the holiday decorations and open yourself to a new year of friendships. Some of you will be starting a new academic semester, but others may be entering high school or college. What both education systems have in common is one task people try to accomplish even if they are shy, which is to make friends.
It is exciting to return to school to see your old friends, but it is also a thrill to make new ones in the new classes you will have the following months. Your new classmates make great friends, because of the same class(es) shared, and you will be able to study together for the quizzes and tests. You’ll also be able to spend time together outside of class and introduce them to your old friends, so you can all hang out.
Some high school teachers and college professors will give students time to introduce themselves and become familiar with their classmates on the first week of school, but others may not. Either way, you should chat with your new classmates when the opportunity arises.
So, how do you make new friends in an environment that is unfamiliar?
Below are some steps I take every school year that could also help you make new buddies to keep you company throughout the semester and years to come.
1) Be confident. It can be challenging and scary at first, but you have to make an effort to start a conversation. Think of it as an input-output process: you put in your time and effort to start talking to earn someone’s friendship.
2) Make an effort. Try counting to ten. Take a deep breath or sing one of your favorite songs (in your head or aloud) to put you in a calm and cheerful mood before you turn to your classmate to talk.
3) Smile. Let’s face it, wouldn’t you want to make friends with someone who smiles as he or she talks to you?
4) Introduce yourself. A “hi” preceded by your name can be done before or after the conversation has started, but make sure to remember the person’s name for the next time you see each other. Remembering their names will make them feel recognized and most likely make them continue talking with you during the next class session. (Need a handy way to remember them? Just take a cue from Anna Faris.)
5) Make eye contact. Looking at someone’s eyes during a conversation shows you are making a connection with him or her and shows you are interested in what they are saying.
6) Compliment something about the person. The classmate next to you may be wearing a T-shirt of your favorite band or have a rainbow-patterned backpack that you think is cool. Compliment it to the classmate, and he or she will reply with a thank you and lead the conversation with why they bought it or why they like it. It’s a fun way to start a conversation with your future buddy and discover some of the things you have in common.
7) Be yourself. Sometimes we try to be someone we are not because we don’t find ourselves interesting, but it gets difficult to maintain a role we are not used to. Staying true to who you are will earn others’ true friendships.