How to break the ice when it’s already slushy

Michael Drummond/Staff

You’ve all heard that corny pick-up line: “How much does a polar bear weigh? Enough to break the ice!” Well, with only five weeks left until the end of the semester, you might be wondering how it’s possible to get to know people so close to finals. Don’t fret — the ice hasn’t completely frozen yet. We at the Clog understand how easy it is to get caught up hanging out with established friend groups, recuperating from midterm madness and writing end-of-the-year papers. Sometimes, we act more like socially awkward penguins than Golden Bears, but it’s never too late to make connections with new people. Whether you’ve set your sights on being friends with that person in your discussion section you always thought was cool or just want to make small-talk with the person sitting next to you on the bus, we outlined how to break the ice in five easy steps.

1. Do a temperature check.

Make sure to check whether it’s a good time for you to make your move. Timing is everything! If the person is talking on the phone or typing away furiously on a laptop, it might not be the best circumstance to strike up a conversation. Checking body language cues can also be helpful. If people cross their arms over their chest or have their headphones in their ears like when they’re walking through Sproul Plaza, they don’t want to talk to you. But if the person you’re trying to talk to isn’t visibly busy, it’s the optimal time for you to take the plunge.

2. Take a deep breath. 

Before starting the conversation, it’s important to collect your thoughts and to breathe. As simple as it sounds, interaction with people you haven’t formally met takes guts and can cause a lot of anxiety. Taking a deep breath can calm your nerves and prepare you for anything. Think about the worst-case scenario. The only thing they can do is ignore you, and then you can just pretend it never happened. Then every time you see them at the Student Union, you don’t have to feel obligated to give up your seat to talk to them. Besides a couple minutes of awkwardness, it’s a win-win situation.

3. Find common ground. 

Finding common ground might seem like the hardest part of getting to know someone new, but a simple “How are you doing today?” can break the ice. Alternatively, giving a compliment can also do wonders for someone you’ve never met before. The three months of experience you both have had during the current semester can be used to your advantage too. If you’re in class, it’s easy to ask a question about an upcoming exam or assignment that’s due. It’s also a lead-in for complaining about how difficult that Chemistry 1A exam or assignment is. Misery loves company, and you two can really bond over horror stories about deadlines. After the usual “name, year, major and hometown” spiel, the possibilities are endless as to where the conversation can go. The advantage of semi-knowing people is that you can talk about possible mutual friends that you have as well!

4. Exchange contact information. 

If the conversation goes well, you have the power to keep the connection alive. Pull out your phone and add each other on Facebook. It’s not too much of a commitment to send that friend request right then and there. If you’re really brave, exchanging numbers with someone shows confidence in your blooming relationship. Maintaining friendships is a struggle, but it’s all about baby steps. Maybe if it goes well, you can graduate to coffee at Caffe Strada. And then if it goes even better, you can even take them to Big Game. Like we said, baby steps.

5. Don’t forget to smile.  

As cheesy as it sounds, a smile can really brighten up someone’s day! The goal is not necessarily to be best friends after your exchange, but just to learn something new about someone. And that’s an achievement in itself. After hours being locked up in Main Stacks, it’s nice to see a friendly face once in a while. A little positivity goes a long way, so show off those pearly whites.

Contact Abigail Balingit at [email protected].