Conversation doesn’t come naturally to everyone — especially on a first date. We asked relationship experts how to get past the small talk and spark better conversation.
Do your homework
Yes, this may seem a little nerdy, but if you’re nervous about running out of things to say, go ahead and make a list of possible questions and study them ahead of time. Once you commit your “cheat sheet” to memory, you’ll have a nice juicy bank of interesting questions to get the conversation going. (Just don’t jot down notes on the palm of your hand. That might be taking it a little too far.)
Let your body do the talking
If you often find yourself at a loss for words, think about how you can use body language to express your interest and stimulate conversation. A simple smile can sometimes be the confidence booster your date needs. “Smile, even if there is nothing to smile about,” says Kurt Celis, founder of HEROmatchmaker.com, a new match making site that caters to heroes (military, police, firefighters, etc.) and those who are looking for a hero. “This will encourage more conversation from your date.”
Listen and learn
“I’ve found the best conversations I’ve had with new people were when I don’t pretend I know everything, and let the other person teach me about him or herself,” says Terri Trespicio. She suggests following your curiosity and asking questions that you don’t know the answer to. “People love being in a position to enlighten you, and it instills confidence in your conversation partner.”
If your conversation skills (or lack thereof) are getting you down, stop beating yourself up. Think about it. Would your date rather be with a person who dominates the conversation every chance she gets or someone who has the confidence to shut her yapper and employ some actual listening skills? If you consider yourself more of a listener and less of a gabber, lifestyle and dating expert Terri Trespicio has one simple tip. “Master the art of asking questions. People by and large love to yap about themselves — and if you’re afraid of having to lead a conversation, don’t. Prompt one.”
Trespicio says it’s okay to get personal — ” just not too personal, especially on a first date.” The whole reason why you’re on the date is to get to know each other, so go ahead and give your date a peek behind the curtain. “The idea here is to let that person feel you trust him enough to tell him something about you. This is not the time to say you’re not over your ex or you often cry at night. No. I mean, share a ‘safe’ personal topic, say, something that happened to you today that you were psyched about, or that worried you. Something that invites… conversation.” You’re likely to make a deeper connection by opening up and showing the real you.
Afraid you’ll freeze under pressure? Pull up the Conversation Starters app on your smart phone, pick a question and make a game of it.
More dating tips
Body language that signals “I want this date to last longer”
10 Questions to cure a quiet moment on a date
5 Ways to ask for what you need in your relationship