Dated and Confused: Perfecting the art of conversation

Chelsea Sherlock, Columnist

My first two weeks at Northwestern have been a crash course on how to meet people. Luckily, I seem to be a natural — I can walk up to almost anyone and charm them into becoming my new best friend.

I’ll let you in on my process: I find an opportunity to introduce myself and usually extend a hand for them to shake. Although that may sound kind of obvious, physical contact helps establish a connection. Then, I ask the other person’s name and begin the basic “getting to know you” routine. It’s what comes next that matters most — that is when you move beyond simply learning someone’s name to making a lasting impact. It is when the art of conversation truly begins.

Here are my tips for really getting to know that new person and ensuring you become more than just another face he or she saw at a party.

1. A lot of students want to meet new people. Unless they are busy, no one will be offended by you introducing yourself. Strike up a conversation at the dining hall, sit with new people, say hello as you wait for class to start. Mutually complaining about all the reading for a class works well for me.

2. Ask follow-up questions. This shows you are listening and interested.

3. Give compliments. They can be a good way to begin a conversation. For example: “Wow, I really like your Bazinga! T-shirt! Are you a big fan of ‘Big Bang Theory?’” Not only have you made the person slightly happier with the compliment, but you have also provided an opportunity for you to talk about something you are both interested in.

4.  If the conversation goes well and you seem to be hitting it off, open up the possibility for future interactions. It can be something like inviting them to go with you and some friends to an event (then exchanging numbers so they can have the details), or for the bold, asking them out on a date. Read the signals and remember: It’s a big campus. If the person says no, there are 8,000 other opportunities.