Quite Frankly

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Hey Frankie,

There’s some QUALITY people on this campus that I would love to get to know better, but IDK how to approach them. I meet them at events and stuff and every time I pass them on the sidewalk on my way to class, I just kinda shyly smile. How do I ask these lovely people for lunch or something? Please help!

Sincerely, Shy Extrovert

 

Dear Extrovert,

Quite frankly, you’re not gonna love my advice. Sure, WikiHow can tell you a million ways to go about this, but there’s still only one solution: Channel Shia LaBeouf circa 2015, and just do it. As far as I can tell, there’s no non-awkward way to initiate a friendship (but maybe I’m doing it wrong). You just have to select a person, say “Yep, that’s the one I’ll befriend today!” and jump right in.

On a less theoretical level, however, I can offer you some tips to get started. The first step is to move beyond the shy smile. Perhaps you could work up to a wave, and then to a quick verbal greeting. My go-to is “Hey, how are things going?” I’ve said that phrase to countless people, and usually they’ll respond in some way, even if it’s not substantive. Your primary goal here is to facilitate a back-andforth with your conversational crony, not for an improvised-yet-perfect Shakespearean sonnet to spring forth between the two of you.

If these are, as you say, people you’ve met before, you’ve already got an in-road to interaction. Try your best to remember names so that you can address your soon-to-be friends by their monikers. This cultivates a sense of personability and shows them that you care. Once you’ve got that down, sprinkle in some references to the commonality you share, whether that’s the event at which you met or the class you both have had together.

Once you move past the “superficial interaction in between classes” stage, you’ll come to the “it’s okay to walk up to you when I see you in the Deece” stage. From there, your path gets much easier; you’ll be just a stone’s throw away from asking them to lunch. Whether or not your aims with hypothetical lunch are romantic, state your intentions in clear, unmistakable language. Something like, “I think you’re cool, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know you over our past social interactions. Would you like to go on a lunch date?” keeps the two of you—or more than two; live your life—on the same page.

The most important thing I can tell you has to happen at each stage. Make sure you’re not just speaking at someone, but to them. Give them space to respond, and listen intently when they do. Apart from just being a good habit, listening will help you learn about them. You can bring those tidbits back around in future conversations.

Best Wishes, Frankie

P.S. People who seem to make friends effortlessly have the same worries about social interaction. We’re all just trying our best.

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