The Cavalier challenges you to have lunch with someone new!

Take a photo of yourself attempting this challenge and tag us on Facebook @saudercavalier and on Instagram @the.cavalier with the hashtag #thecavalierchallenges for a chance to WIN A FREE LUNCH FOR TWO!

Staff Writer: Tina Wang

I began my freshman year with an ambitious bucket list. The first item on said list was to “burst my little comfortable bubble.”

Scrolling through Facebook one day, I stumbled across an article on the art of starting conversations with random strangers. The article had the typical “get out of your comfort zone” and “imagine everyone in their underwear” clichés; regardless, I thought I could give it a try. I challenged myself to eat at least one meal with a stranger that week.

(To anyone reading this who I did have a meal with, know that there was  some reason to the madness!)

To my surprise, I found that nobody really minded having company. In fact, all of the conversations I had were engaging as we enthusiastically shared our freshman woes. However, I do admit that these experiences were not entirely flawless. There were certainly lulls in conversation and awkward silences from time to time. As much as I wished that taking myself out of my comfort zone would be  a magical, one-stop cure for my awkwardness, it wasn’t.

So, why should you share meals with complete strangers?

Well, what is there to lose? By simply saying, “Mind if I sit here?”,  you could be brushing up on those networking skills that you’ve been honing throughout the year, or maybe those witty pickup lines you’ve been diligently rehearsing in front of the mirror. Also, you never know, you could be meeting your best friend, or your soul mate.

Here are some (tried and true) tips and tricks for your next lunch with a stranger:

  1. Skip the small talk and open with something unique. Generic questions call for generic answers. Instead, prepare a funny anecdote. Humour can brighten anyone’s day.
  2. Laugh at their jokes, even if they are absolutely, absolutely terrible.
  3. Be completely present. Actively listen. Don’t think about whether there is lettuce stuck between your teeth or not – chances are, they probably wouldn’t even notice.
  4. Be curious. Ask follow-up questions about the story that they are telling. If you are stuck for words, build off of the last few words they’ve used.
  5. Silences are only awkward if you make them awkward. A lull in the conversation can be the perfect opportunity to start a new topic.
  6. Ensure that you don’t spend the entire conversation asking questions. It is not an interview – share bits and pieces of yourself too.   
  7. Lastly, assume that the other person is your best friend. You wouldn’t converse with your best friend about the weather, nor should you with someone you’ve just met. Be a little silly; be yourself.