• Few or No Friends

Back to School: Strategies to Avoid Lunchroom Loneliness

Published: September 11, 2015 | Last Updated: September 11, 2015 By | Reply Continue Reading


If you have problems making friends (which most of us do from time to time), you may really dread the thought of lunchroom loneliness. It’s hard to enter a room of any kind (even a cocktail party) where everyone else seems to already know each other and has staked out their territory.

Contributing writer Amy Feld has identified some strategies that can help you avoid lunchroom loneliness. Choose one or more that feels the most comfortable to you.

  1. Plan ahead. Figure out where you want to sit before lunchtime. For example, do you feel more comfortable in a certain section of the lunchroom? Do you want to sit at a table with people you know?
  1. Seek out familiar people. Knowing someone, even by sight, can give a friendship a jumpstart. Look around for people you recognize from class or activities—friends-to-be that seem kind, friendly and open.
  1. Get there early. If you’re one of the first people at a table, people will join you.
  1. Smile when you approach new people. Nothing is better icebreaker than smiling as you say hello.
  1. Seek out others who seem like they want a friend. Is there someone sitting alone or two people who seem to barely know each other? Especially at the beginning of the school year, other people will be as anxious as you to make new friends. They’ll appreciate your overtures.
  1. Think of comfortable, safe conversation topics ahead of time: sports, movies, music, books, classes, and/or teachers. Avoid any topics that are negative or controversial.
  1. If you approach a small group, be cautious not to interrupt an animated conversation prematurely. Wait for the right moment to intervene and add something pertinent.
  1. People love to talk about themselves. Show interest in your lunch-mates and what they are saying by asking questions and nodding in agreement at appropriate junctures. Compliment something they’re wearing.
  1. Still can’t figure out what to say? Ask for help. Although it might not seem that way, classmates usually like to help one another. You might ask someone: “Do you have any suggestions for a topic for the English paper?” or “Do you want to study for the chemistry test together after school?” You can even ask them about their hobbies after school.
  1. Body language matters. Watch your posture, lean in, offer eye contact and avoid crossing your arms. Don’t make the mistake of rolling your eyes if you disagree with something being said.
  1. Don’t take rejection personally. If the first person you speak to isn’t friendly or receptive when you sit down and initiate a conversation, smile, hold your head high, and try another table. Continue to act confident and try again. One unsuccessful attempt doesn’t mean the next one will be the same.
  1. Give it time. You may not make a friend during the first week of school and you may need to use a different strategy the following week but you’re likely to succeed if you keep trying.

Do you have any other strategies to add to the list?

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