Silence between people in the right circumstances can be a very powerful communication device. Too many silences on a date can be cringeworthy and can lead the entire interaction off course. Stick these conversation topics in your toolkit so you are never caught out with nothing to say.
1. Ask open-ended questions about anything. An example of an open-ended question is “what was it about Switzerland that made you want to do an exchange there?” Contrast this with a closed question: “when did you go on exchange?” Open-ended questions are richer and you will get more information coming back, which you can then build on with your own experiences and values.
2. Ask about the most important people in their life. This helps you understand more about them whilst also send the message you care about them and their life.
3. Ask what inspired them to get into their work field. This question allows the person to discuss their attributes and values in a non-threatening way. It is more gentle than asking frank questions pertaining to tertiary qualifications and job titles – most of which are meaningless anyway.
4. Ask about their hopes and dreams for the future. People often shy away from future talk in a date because it can come across as clingy and hence alienating. Keep it light and ask what parts of the world they would most likely travel to or what new skill they would like to learn.
5. Follow their lead. Anxious people often paradoxically end up only talking about themselves because it is a familiar topic. If your date falls into this trap, steer the conversation back to yourself by offering insights. For example, if they have spend the last five minutes discussing their job, note that your sister is also in that line of work and something she especially likes about it. That will give the other person’s monologue some shape and direction.