Issue 2, Volume 19
Bold of you to think you’ll have time for any kind of social interaction after Week Three. Excluding ‘coffee catch-ups’ with grads who are almost always called James, you’ll be lucky to see anyone you like from April onwards. However, I appreciate the desire to have someone to brag about the aforementioned coffee catch-ups to, so I am grudgingly here to help.
Firstly, when asserting dominance across the negotiation table a stink-eye is an indispensable tool in the arsenal. However, for the purpose of drawing people in, try going with a more passive look of utter exhaustion, or if you’re feeling really adventurous – a smile. The vast majority of what we communicate is through action, not word. Take your headphones out, sit at a communal table, don’t study in the crypt that is the top floor of the library. Signal to those around you that you are happy (read: desperate) to be distracted from doing your readings.
Secondly, be willing to be rejected. Rather than waiting to be approached, do some approaching. Go up to people in class, see if the seat next to them is free. Ask boring questions, listen, then ask more interesting ones. Crack a joke at your own expense. When in doubt, remember by virtue of being in that room you have enough in common to sustain at least a polite acquaintance. And, if you get the impression they don’t want to chat, don’t take it personally. We’re all crusty postgrads now. Some people don’t have the time or emotional capacity for more friends. Or they hate you – it happens. Don’t take it as an indication of your overall likeability, take it for what it is and try again with someone else some other time.
Thirdly, place yourself in social situations. Join a club, go to an event, do some comps. Whatever it is, try and pick something that interests you so you’re more likely to meet like-minded people. Or if you can’t do that, just do what everyone else does – base it on resume points and potential LinkedIn adds. Either way, you’ll be getting to interact with people outside of your cohort or class and the probability of finding someone tolerable increases exponentially.
Building relationships takes time, so you will need to be patient. Make some non-confrontational eye contact, smile and say hello. Not too hard – you got this. And if you don’t, dropping out is always an option.
Your Learned Friend