When you’re with an old friend or a family member, moments of silence seem natural, and no one worries much about them. However, when you’re one-on-one with someone you just met like, a first date or an outing with a new friend – silence can be immensely awkward. Thirty seconds may seem like 10 minutes, and it can feel like a train wreck.
When it comes to dating and meeting new people, the last thing you want to do is approach it with rules or pressure. Instead, think of these tips as resources you can use
at a party, on a date, or spending time with a new friend.
The following advice can help start up a conversation that has stalled or keep a good one going.
Tips for Success
- When it comes to conversation, the most important thing you can do is listen! Oftentimes if people are nervous, they ramble because they’re afraid of the silence. Don’t get caught in this trap. Instead, be an active listener. When the person you are with is speaking, show interest. Demonstrate that you’re listening and engaged rather than worrying about what you’ll say next. Feel free to make short comments about what the person is saying or ask follow up questions to encourage them to say more.
- When you’re speaking, check in with the other person. Watch his or her body language and eye contact to see if there’s interest in what you’re saying. If the person you’re with is looking around or clearly not interested, wrap up what you’re saying and perhaps ask a question instead.
- Questions are great conversation starters, but keep them light and open-ended so that it doesn’t feel like an interrogation. Great topics include hobbies, travel, where you each grew up, what brought you both to the current city of residence, movies and restaurants. Remember that a conversation is a back and forth, so allow this to flow naturally.
- In general, stay away from controversial topics like politics, on a first date or when beginning a new friendship. If you find yourself on a topic that’s highly negative for you (such as work if that’s a sore subject at the moment), it’s a great time to change the subject or ask a related question of the person you’re with to steer things in another direction.
The most important advice is to relax, have fun and be yourself. If you’re just getting back into dating, being a bit nervous is natural and it’s easy to get bogged down by first date rules. Instead, use the tips that work for you and toss out the rest.
Whenever possible, stay in the moment during a date, party or outing – trust your instincts and enjoy yourself!