Don’t know what to say next? The counseling center has some tips to help
Imagine approaching someone you don’t know.
You begin speaking, then suddenly realize that maintaining a casual conversation feels awkward and maybe painful.
What do you do now?
The Art of Talking to Anyone event was hosted Tuesday to help students navigate the awkward, anxious and uncomfortable conversations most people inevitably face. The event featured three speakers from the Student Counseling Services: Brandy Vancil and Tiffany Waters, who are both counselors, as well as Emily Elrod, a resident counselor.
The event highlighted why communication is so hard, what the first steps should be to initiate conversation, how to be a good listener and methods to create and maintain a conversation.
Anxiety was one of the key factors that inspired this event.
“We keep seeing that students are anxious about speaking to professors about grades, students are anxious about meeting new people, students are anxious about talking to their peers, students are having all of their hard deep conversations online and then don’t know how to navigate them in person,” Vancil said.
One of the biggest factors of poor communication mentioned at the event was how technology affects one-on-one interaction, especially with cell phones.
“We forget how to look somebody in the eye and have a good conversation or create or maintain a conversation,” Elrod said.
This lack of good communication can be damaging as a whole when students work to grow in their relationships with others.
“I think (phones) can damage communication just by being an interruption,” Elrod said. “If we are more focused on what is the next notification, or ‘I gotta answer this text or phone call right away,’ you’re not engaging with people because you’re not really present with them.”
The speakers suggested the way individuals speak to themselves plays a role in what a person believes about themselves.
“It often takes people years before they seek help, and during all those years where they’re struggling it’s just getting reinforced, that dialogue with themselves ,” Vancil said.
During the presentation, the speakers said there needs to be a goal in mind with conversations. The purpose of strengthening communication skills was to connect more with fellow peers, family members or professors.
“A lot of people fall into this trap that life is about the pursuit of happiness when really it’s about connection,” Elrod said. “Human beings are designed to be connected and engaging. And empathetic listening is connecting.”
The event addressed the issue of discomfort and not letting a feeling of uneasiness stop the conversation.
“Say, ‘you know what? I can be uncomfortable and yet pursue what I love or what I value, so I’m going to move in my discomfort to (accomplish) what I value,’” Vancil said.
Vancil hoped those who came would see a chance to move forward
“I hope, as we continue to educate and work on these areas, that they’ll get a little bit of hope that maybe I can change in this area, maybe I could do something a little different and grow,”
Elrod wanted those who came to learn “that challenging yourself is a good thing. This is how we grow. This is how we become new people, better versions of yourself.”
For more information on Student Counseling Services, visit their website.