Recent Letter to the ElderWisdomCircle™
DATING/RELATIONSHIP: Making the Initial Connection
This is not necessarily about dating or a relationship, but it eventually could lead to the former and this seemed to be the only appropriate category.
So i recently moved to a new neighborhood and they have this great big park where i walk with my dog, multiple times a day. I also come across plenty of women and i always greet them, i am a friendly guy, haha. So last sunday i was sitting on the bench and my dog was sniffing around and this rather nice looking young lady walks past me and stops and lets her dog and my dog become acquaintance with eachother. So i started talking to her and said it was a nice dog and we spoke a little about both dogs..you know the usual 'how old is he, what's his/her name' and that was it, but she was really friendly. Before she left she said i have a nice day.
I thought to myself....'gee what a nice lady. i should have said more.' and there comes my problem, when talking to a nice woman i have a bit of problems with keeping the conversation going on. It's always after she has already left that i think to myself..'oh..i could have talked about what a nice park this is, nice weather, how this neigborhood is and ask her opinion of it.' that's something i really dislike about myself, these are all subjects i could have sparked, but didn't. I always think of them after the person has already left. Do you have some advice for me on how to improve with that? Plenty of women just walk by and maybe greet back and that's it, but this one stopped to let the dogs meet and talk to me. So who knows, maybe there was some sort of mutual interest. Next time if i see her in the park i'll greet her and ask how she's doing. Nothing wrong with that.
Thanks for your letter. Sounds like you're a normal guy to me. Most of the fellows I know are generally clumsy when talking to women. Few thoughts that might help you out.
One, ask questions. Some of the best conversationalists I know don't really do that much talking. They are just good at asking questions that begin with the trivial, then hopefully build to questions that encourage more discussion. For instance, initial questions can be about the weather, good places to go in the area, restaurants or pubs nearby, jobs, how long they have lived in the area, or even sports and sporting events, or exercise routines.
Then, depending on their answers, ask secondary questions that relate to their responses. When do things occur? What does that location offer? How long have you worked there? Was that related to your line of study? What did they think of the food, the event, or the concert? You might be surprised that many people like to talk in more depth, given the opportunity. By asking "follow-up" questions, you can often get them talking.
Two, listen. Physically pay attention to what they say, meaning maintain eye contact, nod, or even repeat and clarify what they said. In communications classes, they refer to this as "reflection", which means that you summarize in short phrases what people said so you're sure you understand, then listen carefully to their response. As an example, if someone said something about a resturant being good, you could reflect, "So, the menu, the service and the atmosphere was really great..." This gets them to clarify and expand on what they said. You will find that this helps you connect to people by demonstrating your real interest, and it can bring greater depth to conversations.
Three, give your own observations, then see if they pitch in and want to talk. It's ok to start conversations by noting something that you find interesting and see if that triggers a response. For instance, you may make a comment about other people in the park (not negative!), their kids, businesses in the area, animals, or whatever and see if that gets them to smile in response. "Have you ever noticed that..." Or, "Why is it that...." In other words, put yourself on the line to be interesting and see if you get a reaction.
Four, don't be afraid to screw things up. Being conversational and hopefully interesting doesn't come without some risk because some people just don't want to be bothered, or they are not conversational or interesting themselves. Don't be afraid of this. Just go into it with an open mind, a good heart, and good intentions. Then, even if they don't respond, you've still probably brightened their day.