Because boy, oh boy does bad conversation get awkward when you’re on a date.
You know the kind I mean. You sit down at the table, the waiter takes your drink order, and then the two of you stare at anything but each other because the silence is wildly uncomfortable. He asks what looks good for dinner, and you say something about the chicken. Soon you’re reading—actually reading—the little “table tent” advertising the happy hour specials.
When the waiter comes back, you want to ask if you can leave with him.
Pure torture. And the sad truth is I’m not just talking about first dates. Sometimes long-term relationships get to that point, too. That hurts on a whole different level.
But the good news is there are ways to encourage conversation without making it feel forced.
A recent study found that there’s actually an ideal temperature for inspiring social interaction. (It’s 71.6°.) Similarly, there are ideal conversational habits for getting a good discussion going, too.
And the good news gets better. This stuff is easy. In fact, it’s stuff you probably already do in some situations. The challenging part is remembering to use these techniques when you’re on a date.
If you can remember to work these four conversational skills into your dating banter, relationship-building conversation will flow.
1. Give compliments freely.
Some people give out compliments like they’re bottles of Fuji water and we’re in the middle of a world-wide drought. Which is a shame.
Compliments are free. They don’t cost you a thing, and they’re pretty easy to come up with. (If you don’t find that to be true, you should really read my short report on this topic.)
Compliments about his values and behaviors will score the most points (and do the most to encourage conversation), but any compliment is a good thing. As long as it’s sincere, that is.
2. Tell stories.
The common myth is that guys only like to talk about themselves . . . which is only half true. Guys do like to talk about themselves, but a one-sided conversation is a dead conversation. And a guy worth your time will want to listen to you, too.
So tell him stories. Because the human brain naturally finds stories more interesting than any other kind of communication.
Tell him a simple story about your day, about your work, about things that happened when you were growing up or when you were in college or what you do with your friends for fun. Let him see the world through your eyes.
Positive stories set a romantic vibe better than complaints or negative gossip, so try to keep things uplifting.
3. Make it easy for him to hear you.
If you’ve ever done any public speaking, you know how important good speaking habits are. So employ a few Toastmasters tips to make the most of time spent with your guy.
Speak slowly. Even if you’re feeling shy, make it a point to talk loud enough that he can easily hear you over the surrounding noise. Oh, and don’t mumble.
If you start to get the impression he’s just smiling and nodding, it may not be because he’s not interested. Maybe he’s just having a hard time hearing you. That happens more often than you’d think in the kinds of places people go on dates.
4. Ask what he likes. Then ask again.
If you want to get him really engaged in the conversation, ask about his interests. If he’s into sports, ask which ones he follows most closely and why. If he’s a reader, pick his brain about his favorite book. If he likes the outdoors, go with that.
And when he gives you a little information, drill down. Ask follow-up questions. That shows you’re listening and pulls him even further into the conversation with you.
If it’s a good date, you’ll fall into a back-and-forth cadence. You’ll ask about him, then he’ll ask about you, and so on. Those kinds of conversations can really create connection.
Each of these strategies works beautifully on a first date, but I want to reiterate something I said earlier. If you’ve been with your guy for a while, make it a point to employ these tips the next time you talk with him.
I’m willing to bet you’ll notice a difference.
Conversations that lead to real romantic bonds are rooted in creating dynamic interaction. Compliments, stories, clear speech and sincere questions are the building blocks of that kind of connection.