What better time of the school year to make new friends than at the beginning of it? I’ve been waiting for the right moment to share this little anecdote, and I think that moment is now.
Let me take you back in time to the fall semester of my first year at college. I had just finished a club meeting and there was someone in that club who was so cool (and wholesome??) and I wanted to be their friend, but I knew we were different kinds of people. I could see us potentially being friends because that person is a friendly person and all around good. But I knew we probably wouldn’t be best buddies. And I was okay with that. I was okay if all they did was say hi to me when we crossed paths.
Anyways, the meeting had adjourned, and that person and I were heading in the same direction, so we left together. I was so nervous! I wanted to talk because, I mean, it’d be awkward to walk with someone and not talk to them, but also because I did want to know more about that person. More about what? I don’t know. Anything! It didn’t even need to be about them. I was also interested in what they thought about other things. I was overwhelmed, okay?
As soon as we started walking, they started asking me questions. It was a 20 questions sort of thing. I can’t remember if it was 20 questions about my favourite things (like what are your top five favourite places? what are your favourite foods?) or if it was just 20 questions about anything.
I was struck by how productive this conversation was. I mean, it wasn’t by any means deep, but I got more out of it than a “How are you doing?” “I’m fine thank you” conversation. And another thing about this conversation was that it was so natural. They weren’t like, let’s play 20 questions! They just started asking.
This happened during my first year and I still remember it. This person and I ended up working on something else on campus together, which was cool. So although there wasn’t the fairytale ending of us being best friends, we were good acquaintances and I still find them inspiring.
Next time I’m one-on-one with someone and I don’t know know them but I want to get to know them better and am stuck for conversation topics, I’m going to gather up the courage to take initiative and try this 20 questions thing myself.
What are some conversational tips you have?