5 simple ways to have good conversations on a date
One of my biggest fears when I was dating was silence. Awkward silence, running out of conversation, and the panic that then ensued filled me with such dread. I would combat it by either chatting a load of ‘twaddle’ to fill the silence, or panic so much that I could think of nothing to say. Chances are my verbal explosions or my clamming up put off a few people. I knew that the right one would be someone I wouldn’t run out of conversation with. It turned out to be true – five years later … we’re still conversing well! So what did I learn about how to have good conversations that brought out the best in me and the person I was meeting?
In order to have good conversations, there’s got to be balance between how much or how little you talk. If you dominate the conversation, it can leave the other person feeling overwhelmed and not listened to. If you don’t contribute, then it’s hard work for the other to maintain communication and find out more about you.
My mother always taught me: “Think before you speak”, but sometimes I still struggle with this due to panic setting in and just wanting to fill the silence. In these moments I need to pause, take a breath, remember to listen and use my brain to think about what I’m saying.
This is the difference between introverts and extroverts and respecting the characteristics here. It’s important for both parties to be listened to, have their say and feel valued. This is easier said than done when one can be forthcoming and the other holding back but both these traits can be down to nerves. Think about how you can let each other shine so good conversations can flow.
Give space; don’t feel like you need to always fill the silence. Let the other person speak, making sure you are actively listening, asking good questions. If this is your normal character, and your chattiness is part of who you are, then don’t squash that, but be aware of it. Try to find places where you pause for breath and listen. A good listener is hard to find, and is an art in itself.
People enjoy talking about themselves, so you’ll find that if you actively ask about the other person, you’ll be able to spend some time listening and showing interest in them. This in turn will make them feel appreciated and they may open up more. Dominating a conversation can cause introverts to clam up. Instead use your gift of talking to draw out the other party as chattiness can ease nerves for your date.
If you find you’re an introvert and clam up, really try to communicate. How else will your date find out about you if you don’t open up? If you’re not forthcoming, then maybe think of some questions and topics of conversation prior to the date so that you don’t panic and freeze. This will also help to take a lead if you’re both finding conversation hard. Try not to be overwhelmed if the other party is talking a lot – take the pauses as opportunities for you to have your say. Giving full answers rather than one-word answers will help.
Be Sensitive To Each Other
Try not to judge and rule out a person for not talking/talking too much straight away. Be gracious and try to work out the needs of the other person, putting them first. Maybe they need to get things off their chest, maybe their nerves cause them to be shy and quiet, maybe they talk a lot because they’re actually excited to be with you!
Sensitivity to the other person is vital – my husband chooses words carefully and wisely, whereas I just blurt things out. We’re still learning to allow each other the space to think and have our say. For us to have good conversations, it is important for him to talk and communicate so that I know what he is thinking or feeling whereas I must allow him that time so that he also gets his say.
The same applies on dates – show an interest in what each other is saying, show humility and not pride. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4
For good conversations, ask good questions
Conversation starters could include trying to understand each other’s jobs for example. Not just asking what they do, but trying to get a complete picture of it as this is their world and where they spend much of their time.
Finding out family situations, favourite books/movies/food, ‘desert island discs‘, asking about their five-year plan, the proudest moment in their life, their testimony of how they became a Christian, a time where they knew God at work in their life etc. This should then spark more conversations and help you to get to know each other and take it to a deeper level.
Deal with nerves
Be aware how you act when nervous – combat it and try to work against the grain if you know you go silent, or too chatty. Be gracious if your date is quiet, encourage them and be understanding. Listen to what they say – sometimes if words are few and far between, they’re worth listening to! If your date is loud, let that put you at your ease but not overwhelm you. If you chat from nerves, try to reign it in, use your chattiness wisely to encourage the other.
Give yourselves a chance to get to know each other by listening to each other. I was frustrated if people didn’t talk on dates and I’d panic, but how much of them not talking was because they were nervous, or because I didn’t allow space? Getting that balance is important to let conversation flow. It’s like a first dance…chances are at first you’ll step on each other’s feet but the more you practice, the more fluid and in tune with each other you will become.