Communication Tip: Ask A Question

One of my closest friends is someone I started out just barely knowing and we came to know each other through e-mails for the most part.  And early on I realized this friend was very good at one aspect of communicating that I’d never really thought about before, namely, asking questions.

Almost every e-mail this friend sent me included a question I needed to answer.  It meant that I almost always responded, because I was raised to be polite and you answer questions when people ask them.

Think about most real life conversations you have:

“Hey, Joe.  How are you?”

“Good, Sue.  How are you?”

“Good.  What are you up to?”

We do this naturally in face-to-face conversation–prompting the other person to participate by asking them a question.

But I find that people often fail at this in online communication.

And it can kill your chances if you’re in an online dating situation.

See, here’s a terrible secret of online dating–people will respond to you even if they aren’t particularly interested.  You may just be in the “well, he/she’s not so bad I need to shut it down” category.  But the person isn’t sitting there hoping and praying that you’ll write them back.  (More true for the men than the ladies since men initiate most of the contact so generally if a guy’s done that he had some attraction to the woman before he wrote her.)

Well, if you’re in this, “eh” category, you don’t want to give the other person any chance to walk away until you can meet them.  You need to keep the conversation going.  And the way to do that is to (a) ask questions so the person feels compelled to respond to you and (b) don’t say anything so offensive or over the top that you drive them away.

I had a match fall down on this just this week.  He wrote and asked a few questions, I wrote back and answered and asked two questions, he answered the two questions.  And…I read his answers.  Neither of which made me feel especially motivated to continue the conversation.  Now, if we were in person, I would’ve followed up because awkward silences are painful.

But online?  Not so much.  It’s been a busy week and he was in that “eh” category and even if I’d continued the conversation I suspected it wasn’t going to be that interesting.

I want there to be a back and forth flow with a guy I’m interested in.  A give and take.  (Think about this for a second–it’s not just in e-mails where this matters, right?  There are other vital parts of a relationship that require working together to create a mutually enjoyable experience…If someone can’t do that at a basic level that doesn’t bode well for more sensitive areas of the relationship.)

So.  Ask questions every time you respond.  Play on the other person’s sense of politeness until you can meet in real life and captivate them with your charm and wit or sheer physical attractiveness.  (And if you’re really bad at written communication, get to that point as soon as you can.  Short responses that don’t build a conversation will do you no favors in the world of online dating.)

Guys – Let’s Talk Dating Profile Photos

Long time no post!  My apologies.  I’ve been doing something or other that’s kept me busy, although if I really had to stop and think about it I might have to admit I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time watching episodes of Chopped.  But, putting that aside…

It’s time to talk dating profile photos.  Because I’m looking at a set of them this morning and I just want to shake my head.  Guys, guys, guys.  Come on!  Think about the purpose of your main profile photo.

It’s to get a woman to click on your profile and see all the great, cool things you say about yourself.  (And, please, tell me you’re saying great, cool things and not the same ol’, same ol’ “I like to ski and mountain bike and watch sports” that seems to be the default profile in Colorado.)

So, what am I seeing that pulled me out of my Chopped-induced absence?

  • No photo at all.

Hate to break it to y’all, but ya gotta put up a photo.  Girls aren’t quite as shallow as men, but I can assure you that an empty photo box has absolutely no appeal.  So unless you luck out and get one of those women who clicks on every profile hoping for a hidden gem, you lose.

  • Photo of guy in full-on helmet/skiing gear going through powder

This is a specific one I’m looking at this morning, but the general issue is one where I can’t see the guy’s face, eyes, or body shape.  Look, it’s awesome that you can shred some whatever on the ski slopes. (I don’t ski, so does nothing for me…)  But, dude.  Why am I going to click through to see more about you?  You could be hella hot (I’ll assume not since you didn’t lead with the photo that shows that…), but I will never know.

  • Photo that is cut off in some weird way

Look.  I get it.  Not everyone doing online dating is tech savvy, but come on.  You upload a photo.  They ask you to crop it.  You do.  If what you see on the screen when you preview is the top part of your baseball cap.  Or, worse yet, your crotch.  (I’m looking at you Eric.)  Then fix it!  Or choose a different photo.  Your main profile photo is the most important photo you put up there.  Get it right.

  • Photo of two dudes

Am I getting a package deal here?  You two looking for the woman to complete your perfect bromance?  No?  Then, don’t make your main profile photo a picture of you and another dude.  Actually, of you and anyone else.  This is about you and me getting together, right?  Then show me you.  (Because, you know, that friend of yours is kinda hot and I’m thinking I’m more interested in him right now than I am you…)

  • The mug shot

I’m sure it’s not really a mug shot.  I’m not seeing height lines behind the guy’s picture and he isn’t holding up one of those numbered signs.  But, man, that photo looks a bit serial killer.  Plain white wall.  Staring straight ahead.  No smile.  Intense eyes.  Yikes!  You have a photo, so you’re ahead of the first guy on the list.  And looks like you had a friend to take it for you.  Good, good.  But come on.  Sit down at your dining room table and chat with your buddy while he takes a couple of photos for you.  They’ll look real and natural.  Not…scary.

  • The professional headshot

It’s great that your company had someone come in and take headshots of everyone.  And it’s a nice photo.  Suit and tie, looking pretty dapper.  But this is dating not professional networking.  I give a pass on this one.  It’s not a deal-breaker.  But I note it.  And I keep an eye out for other signs that the guy I’m communicating with doesn’t understand the difference between dating and making a business deal.  Or can’t turn off the work mindset.

So, there you have it.  My mini rant of the day. I meant to post a couple months back when a buddy of mine started online dating again and was having some difficulties, but ya know.  I got distracted trying to figure out how you can make a dish using kimchi, pomegranate molasses, yak meat, and coconut macaroons.

(I did write a book last year that walks through all this stuff, ya know.  If this was post was an earth-shattering insight for you, might want to check it out: Online Dating For Men: The Basics.  Although, that’s not why I wrote the post.  I just wanted to rant a bit.  As usual.)