We’ve all been there. You’ve just started at a new school or university and you’re 12% excited and 88% nervous… seriously nervous. It’s making you feel uncomfortable, really awkward and you don’t know anyone either. How on earth are you going to get through this? Don’t worry, I’ve felt this way too and I’ve been wrapping my brain around how we can move past this phase and make friends fast. 

Where exactly does our confidence come from in the first place? In order to know how we can become more confident, we need to consider what it is and where it comes from. If we’re considering the root of it, confidence has nothing to do with our appearance or our genes. Yes, there are some who appear to be more outgoing but this comes from their extroverted personality and not entirely from a place of confidence. Confidence actually comes from our internal comfortability in ourselves. 

Essentially, confidence truly lies in our self-esteem – the way we feel about ourselves in relation to others. This means that we can practice confidence and that it is a task that we can get better at. This is because much of our lack of confidence stems from the unknown – the more you can reveal the unknown, the more confident you will become. 

Let’s look at it this way: you’ll feel more confident introducing yourself to someone new if you are secure in who you are and if you practice introducing yourself to new people. On top of this, you’ll start feeling more confident when you speak to new people as you reveal unknown information about them. When you initially come into contact with someone, you have no knowledge of who they are and so there are many ‘unknown’ factors here. As you begin to learn more about this person, you will begin to reduce the number of unknown factors. As these unknowns become knowns, you’ll become more confident.

Don’t just talk, listen

So how exactly do you introduce this conversation and learn more about the other person? There are some simple ways to improve your intro-conversation game. The first thing to remember though is that you have to know how to listen. All too often, we’re so concerned with trying to find something to say in response to someone that we don’t fully listen to what they are saying. When you actively listen, you’re able to build on the person’s conversation rather than focusing solely on adding your 5 cents. 

Okay so now that we’ve got that out of the way, obviously, this isn’t the only important part of having a conversation. You will definitely have to speak but how do you do this in such a way that the conversation will run smoothly?

Be assertive when asking a question

Sometimes it’s easier to ask a question than to introduce yourself and it can be an easy way to get to a point where you do introduce yourself. Here’s a story to illustrate my point. 

In my first year of university and on my first day, I was so nervous. The environment was completely different and I didn’t know many people. Fortunately, one or two people that had been in school with me were studying the same course. This made me feel far more secure. Another girl had arrived and she didn’t know anyone. 

Her solution to this problem was to ask me if I knew where the library was. It was something so simple but incredibly effective. We started walking toward the library and during that time, we made our introductions and it was so much easier for both of us. She went on to explain how she didn’t know anyone and we ended up sitting next to each other for the rest of the year and becoming great friends.

You can ask questions about the school or campus layout or questions relating to your class schedule to get a conversation going more naturally. The important factor here is having a more natural conversation – you might be able to start a conversation naturally outside of these suggestions.

Be approachable

A smile goes a long way. If you’re the new person in the crowd but you spend the entire day observing people’s interactions without smiling, people are not going to feel comfortable approaching you. Make yourself more approachable by smiling more and laughing at jokes people make if they’re joking loud enough for everyone to hear. 

Another great thing you can do as a student in school or university is to sign-up for extra-curricular activities or events. This will help you to develop common talking points with people in your classes or lectures and will make introductions so much easier!

If you’re new at school or university, it can be helpful to get to know your teachers and lecturers. They might introduce you to the right peers or the right extra-curricular activities for sociability. 

Make it about them

One of the biggest mistakes people make in conversation is hijacking the space to talk about themselves. If you do this, you’ll quickly end up running out of conversation topics. Doing this means that you wouldn’t have learnt enough about the other person to be able to introduce a new topic that makes sense. 

Learn more about the other person. If you’re in school, ask them which subjects they’ve taken and why – you may end up learning a lot more about the person’s goals and interests. If you’re at university, you can ask your peers why they chose their degree and what they’re hoping to do when they leave university. Questions like this can help you skip the awkward small talk and get onto more interesting conversations.

At the end of the day, most of us find introductory conversations really uncomfortable. Chances are that they’re feeling the same way as you. When all else fails, make a joke or lighthearted comment about how you really struggle to introduce yourself to someone new – you never know where that topic might lead! 

When it comes to conversation, people are all so unique. Let me know how you craft your introductions in a comment or message on Instagram or Facebook. We can all learn from each other and I’d love to know how you tackle this challenge. 

This article was originally published on 13 Mar 2020

About the author
Mekayla Preiss

I am a Copywriter and Content Creator for AdvantageLearn.com. I enjoy getting creative and have a passion for people and crafting compelling content, I hope to inspire the next generation of learners and changemakers.

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