So you’re going. Good for you! In Part 1 of our Reunion series, “Going To Your High School Reunion – Part 1: Pros and Cons. How to Prepare”, we covered everything you’d need to make a decision and what to do before you get there. Now let’s look at what to do once you’re there. Confidence is the most important thing you’ll need when you walk through those doors. Do you feel comfortable? Are you there for the right reasons? Are you truly interested in getting reacquainted with your old classmates? Cool. Then let’s get this party started!
What To Bring
- Bring your yearbook and any pictures you have from back in the day.
- Look at your yearbook before you go, then bring it with you.
- Bring your camera or your phone to take pictures.
- Recruit a friend to go with you if you’re nervous about walking in alone.
What To Do
- Wear your name tag.
- Smile. It helps the nerves.
- Talk to people you didn’t know well, not just the ones you used to hang out with.
- Talk to someone standing alone.
- Listen more, talk less.
- Partner up with somebody and mingle together.
- Admit to not remembering someone.
- Take pictures.
- Relate the memory of a positive story of someone you’re speaking with.
- Let go of past arguments, but do apologize.
- Remember that people age differently. Don’t judge.
- Accept that some people will never change.
- Don’t go in with a grudge or to seek revenge.
- Avoid conflict – avoid controversial subjects like religion, politics, or personal sensitive subjects.
- Don’t bring up the obvious, i.e. fat, bald, with someone other than their husband/wife.
- Don’t drink too much.
- Don’t just sit at a table. Roam around and mingle.
- Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Be true to yourself.
- Don’t expect your friendships to take up right where they left off.
- Don’t count on romance.
- Don’t brag, lie, assume or say stupid things.
- Don’t blame old classmates for not keeping in touch.
- Don’t tell embarassing stories about your classmates to other classmates.
- Don’t revert back to your old self.
How To Start Conversations
- Just introduce yourself and don’t try to be witty or clever. People seem to respond to someone who seems genuinely sincere, rather than someone who is obviously trying to impress them.
- Smile, shake hands or hug, and immediately put the focus on that person. Lead with something like “I heard you were a runner”, and let them tell you about themselves. Continue to ask them questions. The ice will have been broken and the conversation should progress easily. Pay attention to the tone of their responses, though. Most people like to talk about themselves, but some don’t. If they give short answers and act uncomfortable, move to another less personal, more general topic.
- Always follow up a yes or no question with a statement or another question if you’d like to continue talking to a person.
- Start a conversation by complimenting the person, ie. “I love your hair!” “You look great!” “You haven’t aged a day!”
- If you’ve been friendly and respectful and the conversation still isn’t going anywhere, politely excuse yourself and move on. You’ve done all you can, and maybe the person just doesn’t want to talk to you. Don’t take it personally.
- Remember to connect with the person and not their accomplishments. Keep that in mind as you talk with them. Learn what has happened over the years to make them who they are today.
What To Do When You Don’t Remember Someone’s Name
It’s always uncomfortable when you don’t remember someone’s name because it conveys to them that they weren’t important enough for you to have remembered them. (Did you study your yearbook before you came as suggested?) If someone isn’t wearing a nametag and for the life of you, you can’t place them, here are some options…
- Be honest and say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t remember your name”.
- Here’s a less honest approach. Say “I’m sorry, but I don’t remember your name”. They’ll probably tell you their first name. You then smile warmly and say, “Oh no, I meant your last name”.
- Keep making small talk until someone joins you and hope to God they throw their arms around the person and spit out their name when telling them how good it is to see them again.
- Politely excuse yourself for a minute and go ask one of the friends you do know to tell you.
How To Respond To Rude Questions
What if you get stuck talking to someone and discover they haven’t changed much from high school. They’re nice enough, but they’re asking you rude or personal questions. Here are some responses…
“I make it a rule not to discuss that subject”
“Seriously? Did you really just ask me that?”
“Whoa! I’m not touching that one! Let’s talk about something else.”
“I’m sorry, what do you ask me?” (If you look incredulous enough, they probably won’t repeat it).
If they ask if you’ve gained (or lost) weight… “I’m feeling great! How are you doing?”
What To Do if the Asses in High School are still Asses
The clique of girls who made fun of you in biology class have reunited and reverted back to their old selves… The guy you wouldn’t go out with back in the day wants an explanation why you didn’t find him amazing… the girl who got dumped because her boyfriend wanted to start dating you has come to finally rip you a new one…
- Pretend they’re not there and avoid them. It’s okay. You’re an adult now and have choices. You don’t owe them anything.
- Treat them as you would a stranger. Be polite, speak briefly, then move on.
- If they try to rehash an old grievance or bitch they still have with you, just shake your head, smile and walk away.
- If you’re not enjoying yourself, remember…You can leave any time you want. It’s your choice to be there or not be there.
What To Do Before You Leave
- Acknowledge and thank the reunion committee for all their hard work.
- Exchange contact information with those you’d like to stay in touch with.
What To Do After You Get Back Home
- Follow up by email or a note with the people with whom you’ve reconnected, not just on Facebook.
- Stay true to your word by putting forth the effort to stay in touch with those you’ve promised you would.
- Post any pictures you took, and share them with those who attended. Those who weren’t able to attend will appreciate your thoughtfulness.