The Art of Conversation

I touched on this a bit in Don’t Be A Douchebag, but it seems (after dinner with a recently-single guy friend the other night) that this is something the ladies might need to work on as well.

Conversation has a flow to it.  There has to be a give and take for it to work.

Like volleying in tennis.  I hit the ball to you, you hit the ball back.  I am trying to get you the ball and you are trying  to get it back to me.  It’s a cooperative effort.

With online dating, where a lot of men fall down is in the return volley, so to speak.

We’re exchanging e-mails, I ask what he likes to do, he gives me two paragraphs about his hobbies, and that’s it.

When that happens it puts all the burden of continuing the conversation on me.  And, if he’s not all that interesting, I generally choose not to bother.

What should a guy (or a gal) do?

Ask a follow-up question.

“I like to do macrame.  What about you?  What do you like to do?”  Or  “I like to do macrame.  Have you ever done it?”  Or “I like to do macrame.  That’s kind of an odd hobby, isn’t it?”

Say something that requires the other person to respond.

This even works if you’re not a big talker.

They ask what your hobbies are, you answer, and then you let them babble for a while.

“What are your hobbies?”

“Reading, mostly.  You?”

“Well, on Mondays I like to go to the gym, and on Tuesdays…”

Off they go and you’re having a conversation.

Otherwise?

It looks like this:

“What are your hobbies?”

“Reading, mostly.”

“Oh.”

Both stare awkwardly into their coffee cups.

“So, uh, what do you read?”

“Thrillers.”

“Oh.  Cool.”

Both once again stare awkwardly into their coffee cups.

The other nice thing about asking a question is that it triggers most people’s instinct towards politeness.

So, a girl who might not respond to your message if there’s no reason to do so, will respond if you ask her a direct question.  (Even if she’s not all that interested.)  Because it’s rude not to respond to a question.  Right?

And every response you get means one more chance to impress her and one more chance to succeed at this whole dating thing.

So, whether via e-mail or in person, you need to do your part to create that back and forth with someone.

If they don’t hold up their end?  Well, screw ’em.  There are plenty of fish in the sea.  (Because that give and take thing?  There are other areas where that matters A LOT.)

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