The F.O.R.D. formula of conversation can help you make new friends

By Kayla Lemay

Comment Staff

The F.O.R.D. method of conversation can be useful in turning acquaintances into friends. Photo by Tulane Public Relations, used under Creative Commons license.
The F.O.R.D. method of conversation can be useful in turning acquaintances into friends. Photo by Tulane Public Relations, used under Creative Commons license.

Picture this: it’s the first day of class and you’re forced into pairing up with a classmate and working together for the day. You don’t know any of your classmates, so you work with the person sitting next to you.

And then the feelings of dread come. How do you deal with this person you don’t even know? You can’t just talk about class, because that will get dull very quickly, especially once your work is done. And talking about the weather will get you nowhere.

Have you ever heard of F.O.R.D.? I’m not talking about the car, either. Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams.

These four topics are the best way to get to know somebody – whether it’s your new class partner or your new date.

It’s praised in business especially, whether you’re getting to know a customer, client, or even co-workers.

If it can be used in the office, why can’t it be used here on campus?

Sure, maybe prodding into someone’s personal life and asking about their dreams seems a little sketchy – almost stalkerish. But there’s a way to go about it and make it casual conversation.

As a matter of fact, you’ve probably asked the questions a lot since you’ve been in college.

“Do you live on campus or commute?” is a way of asking someone if they live with their family, or if they’re far from them. It’s the first step into hearing stories about their younger siblings and how annoying, or not, they are.

“Do you have a job on campus?” Maybe they don’t have a job on campus, but they might have one off-campus, or one at home for the summer. It gets a conversation flowing about current jobs we have to pay for college now, and even jobs we had in high school to get some extra spending money.

“Are you in a club?” This harmless question is something most people don’t mind answering at all. If they’re in an organization on campus that they’re proud of, they’ll gladly tell you all about it.

“What are you going to do once you graduate?” We all wonder, and maybe worry, about what the next step in life will bring us. The current job market looks bleak for some, so there’s that worry. Thankfully, I haven’t met many people that think like that. Typically people have some idea where they want to go – grad school, full-time work, armed services, peace corps, or any other number of paths.

Notice that all of those questions – something you’ve definitely asked someone else since you’ve been at college – follow the F.O.R.D. method of conversation.

Now that you think about it, maybe dealing with someone you don’t know won’t be such a bad thing. It’s actually pretty easy.


Kayla Lemay is the General Assignments Editor at The Comment. Follow her on Twitter @klemay123 or email her at


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