4 Tips for a First Date

First dates have the potential to change our lives.  I realize that if you’re currently preparing for one, I probably just made your stomach flip, and for that, I apologize!  The best way to enter into a first date is to relax, so forget the whole life-changing aspect.  Instead, let’s focus on the conversation.

So many times, we think of first dates like job interviews, which certainly sets a solemn mood not entirely conducive for fun, and the most common reaction to a job interview is nervousness, right?  When we’re nervous, sometimes we forget the most critical conversational tool at our disposal: listening.

This might sound simple, but it’s amazingly sparse in today’s world.  We focus so much on preparing our witty remarks or perfect delivery that we neglect to fully tune in to the other person.  I’ve heard a lot of great one-liners, and I love funny guys, but what about the guy who actually listens to what you say?  Well, he’s a keeper.  If he’s funny, also, then you’ve seriously hit the jackpot.

Men want a woman who listens, too!  I’m not talking about just hearing the words he says, although that is a critical first step.  Actually listen to his words, his tone, his body language, and his actions.  Women tend to pay attention to these things very well, but on first dates, we oftentimes get so focused on ourselves (our dress, our hair, food in our teeth, who pays, and lipstick reapplications) that we forget why we’re really there.

Listening to your date is practically guaranteed to help the conversation flow.  Bad listening skills, Type A personalities?  Here’s a formula:

1. Question: If your date talks about job duties or personal interests that you don’t understand, or orders something off the menu you’ve never heard of, don’t feel silly asking questions.  Ask away.  People love to explain what they know a lot about, and you’ve just turned your date into an expert, whether that’s on car engines or sushi.  Who doesn’t want to feel like an expert?  We tend to talk so much more about our passions, so you’re getting to know that person in a meaningful way.

2. Pause: Allowing your date time to finish his or her thoughts is pretty standard – and can prove difficult when you’re excited or nervous – but taking it one step farther can really provide information.  One great way of doing this is taking a sip of water as the person is finishing a thought.  It gives people a silence to fill, and many times you get to know more about them from these inclusions.

3. Empathize: Maybe she just finished her degree, or perhaps he’s up for a promotion.  Think of how you would feel in that position.  You would probably want to talk about your favorite classes, what you want to do in the field, or the projects you’ve worked on to climb the ladder.  Now you have great questions.  This is an occasion where selfish thinking can prove very helpful in learning about someone else.

4. Repeat: If you’re so concerned and nervous that you have broccoli stuck in your teeth and just aren’t able to focus on the details of his job while feeling blindly for the compact in your purse, at the very least try to pick up on keywords.  Did he say data entry?  Now you can ask questions about what kind of data if this is something he loves, or if he uses mass amounts of caffeine to survive it.  But honestly, forget the compact when you can, and just ask him!

Of course, asking questions about your date’s pet(s) is recommended.  Not an animal lover?  Check, please.  I say this in jest (and sort of seriously.)

Enjoy your first date, relax, and have fun!  Just remember to listen.  Your life may in fact change, but hey, no pressure.

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