How to ace first-date conversations
Not so fast. You have bigger responsibilities than simply avoiding offending or boring someone as you happily sip your Pinot Noir. You need to be mindful of how the other person will remember you. We’re not talking about bringing a list of talking points that you review in the bathroom, then dash out and say, “Did I mention I like to laugh?” You need to think about what your date would say about you if a friend asked, “So how did it go?”
Your date will likely summarise you in a sentence or two. “I met this nurse who just moved here from New Zealand. She’s really into biking and makes her own muesli. She didn’t talk much, though.” Or “I just had a great date with a divorced dad who told me funny stories about camping with his kids. He’s really into films and goes to the movies almost every weekend.”
Yes, this is unfair. We are complex human beings forced to reduce our very essence to a paragraph in a profile or a couple minutes of conversation. The problem is that when we’re trying to get to know someone and make a quick decision whether we want to see that person again, we don’t remember nuances. We remember headlines.
Here are some tips on making sure yours are memorable.
1) Know your brand
You’ve already decided in your profile what you’re about and what mix of professions, geography, hobbies, relationship history, political affiliations and opinions you want to emphasise. Did you write in your first sentence that you’re a “single mum who loves to garden” or did you play up that you’re a “passionate Geelong Cats supporter”? Or maybe you said you’re a “Perth transplant who works as a high school English teacher.”
These characteristics make up your base brand. Sometimes you can’t determine how others will see you. Perhaps your date just told his co-worker he had to leave early to go meet a “blonde lawyer”. But you can tinker with your identity to shape those early conversations. For example, if you mostly write about your job on your profile, your dates are likely going to perceive you as work-oriented and will base their questions around that. Instead, change your profile to emphasise your love of the outdoors for example, or your idea of a perfect Sunday evening. The conversations will then shift to the positive qualities you want to emphasise.
2) Select your stories
Be mindful that what you say isn’t always what people hear, especially since they don’t have any context to know what you really mean. Don’t complain about your overbearing boss who keeps you late at the office most nights to a date who’s wondering if you’ll be available to get together during the week. You don’t want your date’s debrief to his friend to be “workaholic who likes Mexican food.” You could tell a funny story about your grandmother’s mean cat and risk your date concluding that you’re not a “cat person”.
You don’t have to monitor every word that comes out of your mouth. Just try to be positive and enthusiastic about your life – at least during those first few exchanges. It might even help to remind yourself in advance of your best attributes and what you’d like to play up during the date. (You bake delicious cakes. You love to laugh.) You’re not following a script, just planting seeds of conversation … and reasons for a second date.
This article originally appeared on eHarmony Blog.
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