5 First Date Conversation Tips

2/29/2012 The Closer 5 Comments

I loved The Charmer's post about first date tips so much that I wanted to keep the advice a-flowin'. One of her points was how nice it is to have good conversation, and I have guys voicing frustrations to me all the time about their struggles with making small talk on a first date. Because I am such a kind soul, here are some tips that I have offer for how to make that conversation a little bit easier. These are for both the ladies AND the guys (but honestly, mostly the guys).

1. Don't discount the basics.

When you don't know where to start, it is alright to ask the "where are you from/what are you studying/what do you do/how many siblings do you have" sort of questions. Conversation is meant to help us form relationships, and all of these questions can be great for unearthing some of those relationships. Your cousin went to their same high school, you thought about choosing that same major, you read an article about being the middle child and what that means. Focus on trying to find the ways that you can connect with each other based on the answers to the basics.

2. Follow up is everything.

All of the "basics" are no good unless you use that information to start a chain of sharing. When you ask what they are studying, ask why they chose that major, what they want to do with it, if they considered anything else before choosing, what their favorite classes have been and why. You get the idea. Sometimes on a date it will feel like every time I am answering a question, he is trying to think of the next one liner question to ask. What is a better idea, is while the other person is answering a question, be thinking  "What is something they said that I want to know more about?". Basically you want to get to the point where answers are more like stories, because once you're telling stories, there is SO much more material to keep the conversation going.

3. Forget yourself.

Everyone loves to talk about themselves (especially girls, we just love to talk in general), so focus on letting the other person talk about themselves. Too many times I've been on a date where it feels like a guy wants to tell me all of the reasons why he's awesome. Newsflash, I don't know you well enough to care enough about those things yet. In sales we learn that "emotion makes the sale, and logic keeps it closed", I love the way this translates into dating. When you are telling us about how you were AP for 16 months or how you got a 4.0 GPA for the last 2 years- nothing about that provokes an emotional reaction, except maybe annoyance. On the other hand, when you appear interested in the things I have to say, and like you want to really understand more about who I am, that makes me feel really great. Focus on making your date feel like they are the most interesting person in the world for that hour or two that you are together, and I can almost guarantee they will have a good time. If this is hard for you, remember that everyone has been through something that you haven't been through, so you have something to learn from everyone.

4. Show interest in what they are excited about.

This ties closely into number three, but a great way to make your date feel like a million bucks is to care about what they care about. As they are telling you things about themselves, and you notice that they seem to be excited about anything in particular, ask a ton of questions about that. I really love my job (as you can tell by the way I work it into every post), and it's so fun for me when people are interested to hear about sales. Maybe he is in the midst of a big project at work that he's excited about, maybe she loves her Zumba class, maybe he just got back from a fun trip- try to notice what they are excited about and let them talk about it. Do your best to make sure they don't feel like you're bored with them, so pay attention, ask plenty of questions, make eye contact and smile while they're talking to indicate that you want to hear more.

5. Don't forget to laugh.

While you want to be able to talk about some "meatier" things, you also want to be careful not to get so deep that it's intimidating. Remember, you (probably) barely know them, so share things about yourself accordingly. A great way to keep conversation fun but light is to crack jokes or tell funny stories, it also helps to alleviate tension and make people feel more at ease. I heard on the radio recently that one of the most useless and overused phrases that people put on their online dating profiles is "I love to laugh", because no-duh, who doesn't? Make sure to keep a balance of funny and "real" conversation, so that way you're demonstrating you can both have fun AND connect with them.

So there you have it! Five easy tips to help you really boost the quality and ease of your first date conversations. And remember that practice makes perfect, so try these techniques anytime you can- they're a great way to help get closer to anyone, not just your date!

Yours Truly,

The Closer

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Jason Nordin said...

Ah. I see. You did read my mind.

I guess it is possible... There goes my theory with what's wrong with dating.

So um... I will never be a salesman, and that is because I feel like the scum of the earth when I try and get people to do what I want.
I'm naturally self-critical. :P

This transfers over because I start to worry about whether I'm trying to elicit some specific reaction, or whether I'm just saying things to make her feel a certain way, regardless of whether they're genuine or not.
Not that I'd actually ever do that, but there you go.

I find it a lot more comfortable to try and do whatever is genuine, but sometimes that backfires because all I have to talk about is the 'deep stuff' or whatever, and I worry about what she will think, or some thing or another.

So, basically, what gets in the way of my conversation-making is worrying. I'm quite the worry-wart. And now that I think about it, it's the time I have chosen NOT to worry, and just do something, that it has worked out. And the times when it starts going down-hill... well, I happen to have just started worrying again.

So to the guys who are like me (or girls...): QUIT WORRYING. It's hard. It's really hard. But it IS possible, somehow. I don't know how yet, because I still do it, and I can't exactly identify the times when I'm not. Maybe because I'd be worrying if I was thinking about whether I was worrying or not...

Also, I might add one thing:
Silence might seem the bane of all conversation, but in reality, it is your friend. I will say this again:

Silence is perfectly awesome.
An awkward silence is one where you are worrying about it, and somehow think you have to fill it.

In general, like Hitch said, I'd say just to be yourself. "If your shy, be shy" particularly comes to mind. And if neither of you have anything else to talk about, talk about the fact that you don't have anything to talk about like it's funny, (because it is) and that should get things started. There's personal connection #1!

One other thing - It takes two to tango. And if your uncomfortable with dancing, it also takes two to make conversation.
No, but seriously - It's not one person's responsibility to keep the conversation going; if a guy's shy, girls, you can first be ok with that, and generally that will get him going so much he won't shut up. Trust me on this one. OR the other way around.

This, coming from the king of awkward conversations. Hopefully I will find my queen soon... Lol.


Cindy said...

I'd tweak this advice a bit when you're dealing with an introvert. Introverts don't usually like talking about themselves with people they don't know well, so please don't make a date feel like an interrogation. For me, the sooner the conversation can move away from personal questions and onto something interesting and less uncomfortable, the better. Also, most introverts would rather talk about the things they're thinking about than the things they're doing. I'd much rather be asked about my preferred theory of time travel than about my hobbies.

It's also nice if the guy doesn't just ask and answer questions, but also volunteers relevant thoughts about the topic of conversation. A conversation should involve an exchange of ideas, not mutual interrogations.

Anonymous said...

Closer - You. Just. Saved. My. Life. For some reason having a list of 5 easy points makes my new dating experience a lot less scary. Bless you.

Juichi said...

Yes, thanks so much, Closer! I LOVE this list. I have broken every one of these rules at some point, almost always by accident, so this guide helps me to get better.

One fear for me is the last step. I love to laugh, but I have no sense of comedic timing. All of those dating guides that list humor as an essential man quality scare me. I will try, without being stupid, but I'd love more advice about this for non-comedians like me.

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