Now I'm not talking about a generalized neighbor, on the bus or in the store, but the people who physically live next to you. Yeah those people who you try to smile at every now and then, in order to be polite, but would dread to have a real conversation with! Now I am a guilty party in this too, I struggle to do small talk with people, especially when I’m around somewhere I’m comfortable, like my dorm room. When I reach my dorm room, I just want to run in and crash. I like it to be a place away from all other people at the end of a crazy day, not somewhere where I have to keep interacting with those around me. Yet life is short and reaching out to those around us, can be actually rewarding! Here are some ways to reach out to your neighbors and to make new friendships:
1. Saying hi by name!
Having the smallest of interactions with someone else, particularly when using the person's name, can make all the difference. Your day to day interaction can go from a polite smile to a genuine interaction, making someone feel as if they matter and are memorable in your life. In college we interact with so many people around us, just think about the impact you could make on someone's day by smiling, and calling them out by name to wish they had a good day.
2. Making an effort to care about their life and who they are
Now I know we all have those cheesy RA’s who are told to make an effort with us and learn more about our lives, but what if everyone on your floor at least had a basic knowledge of how your life is going, and how they can be a support or encouragement to you in the day to day. I think if more positive interactions took place on college floors between dorms, college students would feel more included in their everyday college life.
3. Inviting them over for a chat, a movie, or just coffee
Having a nice chill out with someone you might not necessarily hang out with on a regular day to day basis, can help you be exposed to different opinions and new friends. I remember interacting with a girl across the hallway from me, who lives in a quad on my birthday when I was a freshman. If she hadn't of invited me to her room for the first time, my first birthday in America would have been pretty lonely, but she made me feel welcome and smile, and that made mine and hers interactions different from then on out.
4. Random surprises
I know everybody has different love languages, mine are words of praise and encouragement, sometimes notes or gifts. I find a particularly effective way to interact with those around you, especially if you don't know them super well is random acts or surprises, like slipping notes under your neighbor's door or even leaving them food. Even buying someone coffee, after a rough study session can really make a difference! You never know, your act of kindness can encourage someone else to do something for a stranger and spread the encouragement.
5. Community interaction
There was a study conducted by Nvate which is an online magazine somewhat similar to ‘The Odyssey’, doing a study on the impact of interpersonal relationships in correlation with technology today. "The study finds there is an increase in the quantity of interpersonal communication due to the ease of getting in touch via the Internet, but this increase comes at the cost of quality" -(nvate.com/about/). An interesting quote to think about and to challenge yourself with.
How much of a difference would it make if there was an active movement in colleges for face-to-face interaction, and inclusion with all College student's.