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First dates have always been tough for me. How do you know what to say?

I get intimidated by the prospect of keeping the conversation interesting. But you can’t form connections unless you make small talk. It serves a purpose in building connections and creating a comfortable atmosphere for more meaningful conversations, but it’s okay if it’s not your favorite type of conversation.

Small talk can be challenging for many people for various reasons. One of the reasons is that it can feel awkward or uncomfortable to initiate a conversation with someone you don’t know well. It can also be difficult to come up with topics to talk about, especially if you’re not familiar with the other person’s interests or background.

Another reason is that some people may feel anxious or self-conscious during small talk, worried about saying the wrong thing or being judged by the other person. This can create pressure to perform or make the interaction feel stressful. Additionally, some people may simply prefer deeper or more meaningful conversations and find small talk to be superficial or uninteresting. 

Ultimately, practicing and becoming more comfortable with small talk can help make it feel less challenging. And we can help you with that!

The Intimacy Curator’s Guide to Small Talk

Here are a few strategies I’ve developed over the years! Remember, practice makes perfect.

  • Chose some topics you are comfortable with:

Plan 3-4 topics you can talk about with your friends, e.g. travel, cuisines, OTT shows, family. Make sure you find out about the other person’s interests and hobbies too. 

  • Ask open-ended questions:

Avoid asking simple yes or no questions, and instead ask open-ended questions that encourage conversation.

For example, instead of asking “Do you like movies?”, ask “What kind of movies do you enjoy?”

  • Follow the 43:57 rule: 

Studies say that you should always listen more than you talk to be liked, specially during first meetings

  • Share anecdotes:

People love stories, so sharing a personal anecdote can be a great way to break the ice and create a connection. Just be sure to keep it light and positive.

  • Be attentive:

Show that you’re interested in what they’re saying by actively listening and responding thoughtfully. This can help keep the conversation flowing and show that you’re engaged.

  • Keep it light:

Avoid discussing controversial or heavy topics on a first date, and instead focus on fun and lighthearted topics. Save the deeper conversations for later when you’ve built more of a connection.

  • Mirror & ask follow-up questions :

If they mention something interesting, repeat a word or sentence they have said. Pause and wait for their explanation of what that means. Ask follow-up questions to show that you’re interested in learning more. For example, if they mention they’ve traveled to a certain country, ask what their favorite experience was.

  • Use humour:

Humour is a great way to make small talk more engaging and enjoyable. Try to find moments to inject some humour into the conversation, whether it’s through a witty remark or a playful joke. Just be careful not to overdo it or make inappropriate jokes.

  • Listen actively with your full body:

Displaying active listening is an important part of making small talk. Show your date that you’re interested in what they have to say by maintaining eye contact and nodding along. Remember that 70% of our communication is done non-verbally!

  • Find common ground:

Look for shared interests or experiences that you can bond over. This can help to create a sense of connection and make the conversation more enjoyable for both of you. For example: “I saw a picture of you scuba-diving on your profile. I love scuba-diving too, have you been to any great dive spots recently?”

  • Avoid controversial topics, unless they are at your heart:

On a first date, it’s best to avoid controversial topics such as politics or religion. But if you are someone very passionate about them, make sure the person doesn’t have contrarian views to yours. Ideally you want to avoid replacing small talk with a fight

  • Be curious:

Curiosity is an important trait to have when making small talk. Ask your date questions about themselves, and show genuine interest in their responses. This can help to create a more engaging and dynamic conversation. The key is to find out why they do the things they do, aka their purpose. For example, if you’re on a date with an artist, you can say: “You mentioned you’re an artist, what type of art do you enjoy creating the most? I’d love to see some of your work sometime!”

Remember, the key to making small talk on a first date is to be yourself, be curious, and be open to the conversation. By following these tips, you can make the most of your first date and create a positive and memorable experience for both you and your date.

If you still find yourself nervous on those first dates, why not practice and refine your dating skills with our dating coaches at The Intimacy Curator? DM us about our Dating Surrogacy package to know more!

Writer Gayathri RN

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