How to Make Friends Without Starting a Conversation
If you’re a social butterfly who thrives in a crowded environment, you never really understand what a nightmare social interactions are for introverts like me. Just the thought of it, makes my stomach churn with anxiety.
Imagine being brought up in an overprotective environment where you had too little to no interaction outside your immediate family. At first look, most people would either stereotype me as a timid person or a pampered princess.
Not many look beyond the obvious and understand how my upbringing turned me into a socially awkward Yeti. Just because I dread being in a social setting doesn’t make me anti-social, closed off, rude or stuck up, I’m just… socially anxious.
Honestly, I’d rather drink a cup of fish oil than start a conversation with a stranger. But today, it’s going to be different. I’m going to step out of my comfort zone and strike up a conversation with not just one, but five strangers at OS.
So I started. I mean mentally I started. Actually, I just stared at my computer screen and listened to music to get me in the right mood and glossed over a facebook article about 20 inspirational quotes that help you start your day.
I can hear some of you shout, “Stop the dramatics and just get on with it.” Ok, fine. Here’s how my mission to befriend five people under three hours kick-started.
I approached the first stranger in an unusual place. I found a cute, petite girl combing her hair in the washroom. I heard there are a few interns working at Orangescape. Given her small stature, I assumed she might be one of them.
With the assumption that she is just another newbie like me, I swallowed my fear and blurted out that I joined OS just yesterday. If she was shocked by my awkward approach, she did not express it. She just gave me a friendly smile and started talking.
I confessed that I thought she was a fresher right out of college. She just threw her head back and laughed. It seems she has nearly six years of experience and she’s been working here as a front-end developer for the past two years. (Well, there goes my hope of becoming the next Sherlock Holmes :P)
I got to know that the engineering team is located to the right of the TT table, near the wall with the Alan Kay quote. After a minute, my awkwardness started to fade away, but it looked like she was about to leave. Just as she was about to step out, I asked her name.
Yes, Muthu is not my friend, yet. But, my inner Trelawney persists that I’ve at least made an acquaintance. We’re off to a lousy start.
One down, four more to go!
That conversation lasted barely two minutes, but it has left me feeling like a fish out of water. To get the anxiety under control, I badly need to find a secluded place and replenish my energy levels. So, I grabbed the first desk in our bay (the one right next to the swing) and started writing this blog.
Slowly, a steady stream of people started flowing in. The desk spaces were filling in quickly, and the environment was booming with boisterous banter. I was waiting anxiously for my friend. I kept glancing at the entrance every few minutes.
My new friend, Nandy is a gregarious person. She could help me complete my mission. But, if I were to complete this assignment with her help, would that be cheating? As I was pondering over that thought, my friend ventured in.. I confided in her the daunting task looming over my head.
Sadly, she found it funny :( Once she was done laughing her heart out, she extended an offer to help me. The friendly banter with Nandy tuned down my anxiety. As time progressed, I could feel my nerves settling down.
So, I decided to take another chance and ventured out to the cafe to grab a cup of coffee. That’s where I spotted my second target. She stood there leaning over the counter, stating her coffee order in soft tones. She had this mystical aura around her.
I remember catching a glimpse of the dedicated designer when I met the marketing team yesterday. Though Chintan mentioned her name, I had trouble recollecting it. How do you start a conversation with a person when you don’t remember their name? Tricky :/
As I stood there trying to tap into my subconscious memory and recollect her name, she started the conversation. What’s ironic is that she started the small talk with the question, “Hey there, I don’t remember your name..” That’s when my brain exasperated, “See, Dumbo! That’s how you do it.”
She seemed so soft-spoken and sweet. Yet again, my gut feel persisted there was more to the fierce-looking friendly designer with the perfect winged eyeliner. Although you may have a fair share of doubts about the accuracy of my “prediction,” it turned out to be true.
As the day progressed, I got to know that Shirley has an excellent sense of humor with a generous dose of sarcasm. Her well-timed yet straightforward retorts made the lunch break rather memorable. And, that’s how I made another acquaintance.
Well, Shirley made it rather easy for me.The dread and panic that were streaming through my nerves have settled down a bit. I feel a bit more confident now.
What sort of impact will this little dose of confidence have? Will there be a drastic change in my approach? (*spoiler alert* -Highly unlikely) Who is my next target? Watch out, folks! You might end up as the next victim :D