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Support & Wellbeing

Breaking the ice: conversation tips and tricks

By SanctuarySocial 26 May 2023

Converse like a King!

Meeting new people but need new material? Then you've come to the right place. National Conversation Week is here and one of the most important steps in a conversation is starting it. But making that first move can for a lot of us, feel awkward and unnatural but with a little work, forming new relationships at uni will become a breeze.

There are two golden rules for any conversation at any point though, so before we cover any icebreakers, ingrain these two rules into your head:

The golden rule - be yourself

First things first, what you need to do is be yourself. You're great and if you want to be a smooth talker then you need to play to your strengths and talk about what you know. People can always tell when you're being fake and even if you pull it off initially, you won't be able to keep it up forever. Plus, you'll generally feel more comfortable talking about stuff you know and you'd be surprised by the common ground you'll be able to find.

Golden rule #2 - listen!

Use those ears, they are on your head for a reason. The natural flow of a conversation requires you to take in what the other person is saying (duh) so you can come up with a relevant reply. Even if you have zero knowledge on what they are talking about, you can say that and ask the right questions. This will lead to a chat where you actually learn a lot about a subject/the other person and they will likely appreciate your effort to find out more about something they're interested in.

Where to begin

Okay so everyone is different and what will work with everyone will be different, so keep that in mind and be willing to naturally adapt to the flow of the conversation. So with those two rules in mind and the disclaimer out of the way, here are the best ways to break the ice with someone new:

  • Tell a joke - Being funny will never get old but being unfunny, gets old real quick. That's why this is probably the hardest icebreaker to try if you're not comfortable with telling jokes but if you do think you've got what it takes then definitely give it a go. Could be a dad joke, self deprication or could be observational humour. Whatever you choose, make them laugh and you'll have instantly formed a solid foundation to build a relationship.
  • Ask a relevant question - Sometimes the easiest way to get on the same page is by asking the right questions. There's a good chance they're probably wanting to ask the same thing. For example, you show up to your new accommodation and you're wondering where the storage cupboard is. Ask and if they don't know, you can find out together. Teamwork makes the dream work.
  • Invite to a game/event - Another great way to get the conversation flowing is by inviting them to do something. Now it's probably not a good idea to jump straight to a candle-lit dinner but why not tried to get all the newbies involved in something together? Card games or any events held in Sanctuary communal areas are fun and easy so people won't be as put off by the offer. 
  • Food - Who doesn't love food? It's something we all share in common and it can also be a useful way to break the ice. If you've got spare it's always a nice gesture to share with another, even if it turns out it's not really their thing. And who knows, they might end up returning the favour and before you know it, you're cooking meals together.

So with all these tips, you can now dive head first into meeting new people. Don't worry if it starts off being awkward, you'll eventually meet lots of people you can have a great time with. Check with @sancstudents for any social events, they're the best places to hang out with new people.