October 07, 2008

Conversation Starters for Dating Purposes

You’ll probably run into many people throughout the course of your dating preparations that could be The One, but you’ll never know for sure unless you talk to them. Starting a conversation with a stranger can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be impossible.

Every conversation runs its course within a similar outline: making first contact, introductions, speaking with each other, and then ending the conversation - hopefully with plans to meet again. To navigate these sometimes scary but usually rewarding waters, read on.

The purpose of breaking the ice with someone new isn’t to show off your amazing conversational skills. Instead, think of your initial contact as a way to show a potential date that you’d like to talk to them. Some conversation starter ideas to get the words flowing:

Comment on an item that you both share in your immediate surroundings, such as the long lineup you’re both waiting in or the wobbly chair next to you. By focusing an item you can both experience, you’re removing any potential awkwardness with a canned comment.

Sometimes a look is all that’s needed to break the ice. When faced with a person you find attractive, why not give them a genuine, 3 second smile? You may be surprised when the object of your happiness starts a conversation with you, instead.

If there is something the person is or has that truly intrigues you, simply use that as a conversation starter. This could be as simple as admiring a piece of clothing or asking them about the item they ordered.

A genuine hello coupled with a smile can be equally as effective. A quick, “How are you today?” works too for a straightforward follow up.

You’ve made first contact – now what? Conversation starters that seem witty or interesting can be a challenge in the spur of the moment. That’s why spending a little bit of time at home pondering the ‘now what’ will pay, later. You don’t need to invest hours into these conversation starters though. Some quick ideas that can work in a pinch:

Current event topics of interest to you;

The last movie you watched;

A comment about the event you’re attending, with a follow-up question asking how they heard about it.

The point of this exercise is to create a backup of topics that you can draw upon on a moment’s notice to start a conversation that would also be of interest to someone else.

Once the back and forth exchange has begun, it is your responsibility to keep the flow moving – which entails listening, responding and moving seamlessly between topics to create a connection.

For example: say the object of your affections intimated that they came to this particular coffee shop because a friend told them there was free WiFi access and they were excited to try the service out.

A great segue to keep this conversation moving forward would be to ask where else they’ve found a good WiFi connection in town. For those not familiar with WiFi, you could ask what WiFi is and how it works.

In a nutshell, listen to what the person responds with and then think to yourself, “What do I know about those particular subjects?” Using the example again, you could easily discuss a myriad of things, such as where electrical plug-ins are located, the best place to sit while working on a laptop, or further inquiries about what kind of work they perform on their laptop.

Focus on taking your own experiences and weaving them in with the other person’s responses. By doing so you’ll be forging a connection with the person, creating hooks of information with which to start a conversation at a later date. To ensure that you are actually conversing, and not just bantering back and forth in a quick succession of questions and answers, try to remember these key points:

Keep whatever stories or experiences you are sharing to less than a two minute retelling. You can always expand more if the person asks;
Turn the conversation back to the other person where you can, such as, “What do you think?” or, “How about you?”;
Try to let your conversation partner do half of the talking, with a natural blend of questions and answers;
Don’t focus on one topic for too long, and if your talk gravitates to another subject - let it.

Every fantastic conversation must eventually finish, so let the conversation you started go gracefully and with style. Don’t provide too much information or go on for half an hour about your common interests. You may feel obligated to continue forward, but why not leave on a great note with your companion wanting more?

Thank the other person for their time and let them know you’ve got something else to do, but you’d like to continue the conversation another time when it’s convenient for the both of you. Using the WiFi situation as an example, you could say, “I’m going to be late for a meeting, but I’d really like to check out the restaurant you mentioned. Perhaps we could continue this conversation there together later on in the week? What do you think?”

After you’ve exchanged contact information, smile and go off to do whatever it is that you’ve moved on to. Make sure to look back just as you are leaving to smile again, acknowledging your newfound acquaintance and allowing them to feel just as special as you do for having met someone new.

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