What’s ‘great conversation’? Well, let me first tell you what it isn’t…great conversation is not talking about work, your last holiday or your favorite band. You may love the same TV show or have relatives who live in the same city but finding out you have common ground, while nice, it doesn’t remotely resemble great conversation.
Great conversation will make your date say, “I can’t wait to see you again.”
Great conversation is all about asking meaningful questions, sharing personal details via storytelling, and listening attentively.
(This post is Part 1 of a three-part series that covers each aspect.)
Great conversation is like a game of catch. You can start with some easy ‘throws’ (e.g. small talk) but as you get more comfortable and confident you must graduate to more complex ‘throws’ that are deeper and allow you both to show what lays beneath the surface. Vulnerability doesn’t often happen, let alone on first dates, but it is powerful and even magical.
Even if you don’t find common ground that connects you (like both hating dairy products), you will feel connected because you will have given each other a glimpse of who you really are.
Graduating to this level of ‘big talk’ isn’t a piece of cake. It takes effort and courage, both of which will be hard to come by on a first date because of the sheer fact that it’s a first date and first dates require a shitload of effort and courage.
Do you have some effort and courage left in you? I hope so. Because it’s worth it. That initial uncomfortableness will be worth it once you experience the joy of knowing your date (and allowing your date to know you) at a deeper level.
To be clear, flirting, laughing, breaking the physical barrier…these are all important components to having a successful first date. But you can pretty much laugh, flirt and touch anyone.
Great conversation on the other hand is not so easy. That’s why it doesn’t happen often. And that’s why it is such a treat when it does happen…especially on a first date.
If you can be the person who has amazing first-date conversation (while also flirting, laughing, and breaking the physical barrier) you will find your first dates are much more fulfilling and satisfying than ever before.
So, how to have this amazing conversation?
There is a plethora of websites with reams of intelligent and insightful questions. All you need to do is pick a few that resonate with you.
You can find some great questions at:
- Big Talk;
- NYT’s 36 questions to fall in love; or
- 27 Questions to Ask Instead Of “What Do You Do?” by Courtney Seiter in Fast Company
What questions you ask depends on you, who you’re with, and the situation. Unlike “What do you do?” which can be asked in pretty much any situation, a question like “If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be with?” or “When did you last cry in front of another person?” can’t be used indiscriminately. You must choose the right question for the right moment.
But don’t worry, it’s not that hard….
If your date brings up her heritage, you can ask questions about their family, such as:
- What does home mean to you?
- How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
- How do you feel your life has worked out so far?
If your date has hobbies (as most people do) you can ask questions relating to them or any other passions in their life, such as:
- What do you spend too much time doing? What don’t you spend enough time doing?
- If money were no object, what would you do with your life?
- What holds you back from doing the things you really want to do?
Or just say you’re at a bar enjoying happy hour with your work colleagues and you strike up a conversation with a babe. If your witty banter starts to die down and you want to make an impact before you part ways (or ask for their number) you could ask:
- What’s the best thing that happened to you today? (Hopefully the answer is “You”)
- What advice would you offer to yourself five years ago? One year ago? Today?
- If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why? (e.g. would you still be at this happy hour?)
Choosing the right question isn’t nearly as important as segueing into it well. You want the conversation to flow smoothly. As such, my suggestion is get comfortable with a handful of questions and think about the different ways you can transition to them.
Ideally, after your date has answered the question, you’ll both find yourselves having a conversation you never thought possible on a first date (or chance encounter at happy hour) because of its depth and meaningfulness.
Now, how about if your date finishes answering the questions and asks, “How about you?”
Next week, we’ll cover the best way for you to answer that question. The following week we’ll discuss attentive listening.
This article originally appeared on Maitre Date