Conversation Starters

Even shy introverted personality types can use these tips to avoid awkward silences on first dates. These tips range from discussing ”the elephant in the corner” to knowing when to “fold ‘em” — and they’ll make your dating life easier and more enjoyable.

Talk about the “elephant in the corner”

If you notice that there seems to be nothing to talk about, then your date is probably noticing the same thing. Talk about that! I use this as a conversation starter regularly: “Isn’t it awkward when you feel like you have nothing to say?” Then you’ll start talking about that – and you’ll both be more relaxed. Try it – it really is an effective first date conversation tip. You’d be surprised at how fun it can make your date!

Keep up with current events

I’m not a big fan of American politics, the war in Iraq, or the Canadian housing economy – but I listen to CBC and scan various news sources so my hubby and I have something to talk about at dinner (because sometimes old married couples need conversation starters, too!). Make small talk about the news, sports, your community, or politics.

Share the highs and lows of your day

Here’s a great “first date conversation starter” that works for any get-together: family meals, first dates, or huge galas. Ask for the highs and lows of the day, and share yours. Did you lose your keys or find $100? Maybe you ate at a new restaurant recently, or found a great new CD. Making small talk is about sharing the little personal things, which is important even after you’ve been married for years.

Comment on a piece of clothing or accessory

Even better, wear a funky brooch, scarf, or necklace. If you’re talking to someone wearing any accessory, ask where it came from or what the significance is. Being observant about people and your surroundings is a great conversation starter for first dates.

Ask questions about what your date says

There’s nothing worse than talking to someone who’s eyes are flitting all over the place. When you’re making small talk, follow up on what your conversation partner is saying. For instance, if they say they’re “doing excellently”, ask why. If they mention that they’re exhausted, follow up on it. This is a good way to make dating fun – and get to know your date better.

Recall your past conversations

Even if it’s a first date, you can highlight what you talked about on the phone as you were setting up the date. Here’s a first date conversation tip that will carry you to second and third dates: file away bits of information, such as  their favorite vacation spots, the tie they were wearing the last time you met them, or where you were the last time you saw them. Then, make sure you ask about those things.

Ask open-ended questions that require an explanation

For instance, “How are you?” isn’t an effective first date conversation starter. Making small talk is easier if you ask “Whatever happened with ‘__________’ “? or “The last time we spoke you said ________. What happened with that?” For more dating conversation tips, read 5 Smart Conversation Starters.

Ask what funny movies or books your date has seen recently

Someone once asked me that at a party –and this is so much more than a first date conversation tip. When I was asked what book I was reading, it felt like contrived conversation – which it was – but then we had a fantastic discussion about the book! Even the obvious conversation starters can be effective, especially for first dates…you’ll never know where it’ll go.

Take deep breaths – dating is more fun if you’re relaxed

Your date (and conversation partner) will pick up on how relaxed – or anxious – you are and will respond in kind. And two nervous people aren’t great at making conversation! So, let your guard down with your first date, business lunch partner, or the stranger at the gala event. If you’re nervous, say so. If your shoes are too tight, say so. Knowing how to make small talk on a first date is about having fun on your date with chit chat.

Know when to fold ‘em – let the conversation die out

If the conversation feels like dragging a piano uphill with cement boots on, then let it go. You can’t connect with everyone, and some conversations simply refuse to take life! Making small talk involves knowing when it’s time to move on – because conversational chemistry is just like personal chemistry. You can’t force it to happen.



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