I know many of you out there will worry about what to talk about on your dates: Will there be awkward silences? Will you burn through the best of your chat? What does she want to talk about?!
I also know from coaching so many men on how to improve their conversation skills for dates, that within you lies a great conversationalist. You probably just need some daily exercises to do to build your confidence and develop a more sociable* style of speaking.
(*By this I mean most of us get used to talking everyday how we do at work, and if your job requires you to be concise or technical, this may not be setting you up with the best daily practice for your conversations with women.)
So how can you use everyday life situations to develop your conversation skills?
Exercise 1: Every purchase buys you 30 seconds of conversation skills practice.
In our everyday lives, there’s plenty of opportunities to practise our conversation skills: most of us just don’t use them. This is where you’re going to change your mindset. Next time you’re buying something (petrol, a coffee etc.) I want you to use this as an opportunity to make an "offer" of conversation.
An "offer" of conversation is where you share some information about yourself, and see if the other person wants to join in on the conversation. What you share doesn’t have to be particularly witty, in fact even benign shares of `why you bought that thing right now’ work really well here:
"I don’t believe I’ve made it until 11am and this is my first coffee of the day."
"It’s so hot today I’m drinking a lot more water."
"Petrol prices are crazy right now."
What you’re doing here is twofold. For one, you’re allowing someone to connect to you by sharing some information about yourself, you’re becoming more relatable. Secondly, you’re also doing a quick litmus test of whether they’re socially open, or not. If they don’t reciprocate it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you, it just means they don’t feel like talking to you at that moment.
This ability to test the water to see how open someone is, and to carry conversations by sharing something about yourself, are both very useful for your conversations with women.
Exercise 2: Flex Your Conversational muscles by talking on a subject for one minute!
Over the years I’ve coached a lot of men (and women) on how to meet people IRL. Particularly for men, this will often require you to develop your abilities in carrying a conversation. When you first meet a woman she doesn’t know anything about you, so your ability to build trust with her, to connect and share information about yourself becomes really important.
Simply put, she won’t usually "offer" much to the conversation until she feels more comfortable, and knows more about who you are.
To help bridge this gap you have to get more comfortable with talking about yourself, and subjects more generally. If your conversations currently rely on a string of questions this strategy will let you down, as she just won’t know you well enough to really open up.
Questions (especially the logical, boring kind) kill conversations. So develop your skills for talking on your own initiative and leading a conversation. The simplest way to do this is to draw up a list of common subjects (work, fitness, holidays, the city you live in etc.) . Now I want you to try and talk on each of these subjects for 1 minute.
This doesn’t mean that you rehearse scripted answers to topics (this is also a really bad move), it’s about developing your conversation skills. This isn’t an exam, it’s a skill. The goal of this exercise is to get you more comfortable with holding up your end of the conversation, until she’s comfortable enough to contribute.
Exercise 3: Experiment with Creating Tension in your Conversations.
Pauses in conversations can feel unnerving. They’re not actually all bad, and can work to your advantage to create tension in an interaction, which is a necessary ingredient for the interaction to feel more than platonic. However, if you’re working on developing your conversation skills it can be nice to have something in your back pocket to fall back on, if this situation arises.
One strategy is for you to use a pre-prepared story during the interaction. To help with this check out my blog on storytelling.
Another strategy is to practise creating a cliffhanger moment of suspense. Here are some examples of statements that you can drop into a pause:
"I probably shouldn’t tell you this but..."
"You’re probably going to disagree with me but..."
"You might hate me after I tell you this..."
"You might fall in love with me after I tell you this..."
These statements grab attention: You’re about to say something exciting! You then can follow these cliffhanger statements up with a statement that releases the tension:
"...I’ve actually never had a vegan taco in my life."
"...I prefer the newer Star Wars movies."
The seesaw effect this creates in the conversation builds and releases tension, and is one of the easiest steps you can take towards developing that golden skill of playfulness in your interactions.
The good news is you also don’t have to be talking to a woman you like to practise this skill. This skill can be practised in everyday social conversations, and even when you’re getting the bill at a restaurant.
"You might hate me after I tell you this... that was actually the nicest eggs benedict I’ve ever had." (And SMILE!)
What's the next step?
Look, I love, love, love teaching men like you how to get better at talking to women. If you found this blog helpful then I’d also highly recommend you do a deep dive into my "conversation tech" module of my UNITE online training programme.
Get practising and let me know how you get on!