How to ace small talk with BearWALK

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From conversations the Clog has held with Community Service Officers, BearWALK employees seem to think that the number of people who utilize their services is smaller than it should be. We think that this is because most UC Berkeley students would do anything to avoid small talk. We understand them: Small talk can be torturous. But we think it pales in comparison to the safety threats one faces when walking home alone at night. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of tips to ward off awkward BearWALK conversations. You’ll never be caught rambling about what you had for breakfast this morning again.

1. Be prepared to talk about your night. 

We guarantee that BearWALK-ers will ask you, “So, how’s your night going?” In fact, it will always be the first thing they’ll ask. Be prepared to answer them. Prep yourself with notecards if needed — but don’t actually do that. They’ll think you’re strange. Don’t just answer with a noncommittal grunt, either. They’re trying to talk to an actual person, not a Neanderthal.

BearWALK: So, how’s your night going?

You: It’s been great! I ran into my GSI in Walgreens, and we had a weird conversation about lettuce. I think we really connected. 

2. Give BearWALK something to work with.

Do you thrive on prolonged periods of awkward silence? We’re going to go ahead and assume you answered no, and this is why you need to keep up your end of the conversation. Your BearWALK-er just asked you how your night is going. If you answer, “good,” will this further the conversation? We want you to apply the fancy critical thinking skills you’ve learned at this school to come up with an answer. Hint: It’s no.

BearWALK: So, how’s your night going?

You: It’s been great! I ran into my GSI in Walgreens and we had a weird conversation about lettuce. I think we really connected. [This part is crucial. Get it right.] How was yours?

3. Remember, BearWALK employees are people too.

… and people are narcissistic. Turn the tables, and ask them a question about themselves instead of just answering questions about your own life. Your problem will go from avoiding that awkward silence to getting your BearWALK-er to shut up, pronto. We promise.

BearWALK: So, how’s your night going?

You: It’s been great! I ran into my GSI in Walgreens and we had a weird conversation over lettuce. I think we really connected. Have you had any awkward GSI encounters?

4. When in danger, state your major.

OK, so that doesn’t rhyme as well as we wanted it to, but the principle behind it is important. If you’re out of conversation topics, channel your inner freshman to turn the conversation around to school. Ninety-nine percent of BearWALK-ers are current UC Berkeley attendees or recent graduates. Note: This is not an actual statistic. You both hate homework. Complain about it.

BearWALK: So, how’s your night going?

You: Terrible. I had a midterm and then I had an essay and then I had a problem set … you hate essays, right? Let’s talk.

5. Remember, conversations are supposed to be fun.

We know this might be news to most of you, but small talk is not supposed to feel like pulling teeth. A conversation is just two people talking about mutually enjoyable subjects. You’re allowed to talk about something you enjoy! Be quirky. Be strange. Revel in the fact that you’re having a conversation with someone you’re never going to see again in your life. Unless you’re assigned the same BearWALK-er again. Then you’re on your own. We’re sorry.

Image sources: Featured Image

Contact Emma Schiffer at [email protected].