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Self-Improvement & Hobbies

Continuing the conversation

Stumped for words after you’ve gone beyond the first sentence of chatting up a girl? Try these tips.
CATS Classified In The Straits Times - March 13, 2009
By: Wong Wei Chen
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Continuing the conversation

So, dude, you finally approached that lady quietly drinking at the bar by herself? You probably broke the ice with a smart little remark like: “With the current economic slump, it’s a wonder we can still afford to come here and spend our hard-earned money on booze.”

Well, you’ve got her attention now, so how do you continue?

Avoid her past

An area best avoided until you’re more familiar and comfortable with each other. You know next to nothing at all – she could have just broken up with someone and may still be heartbroken, her relationship could be on the rocks, or, on a more positive note, she might have a steady boyfriend and is merely game for a friendly chat.

While Star Trek’s motto is “to boldly go where no man has gone before”, remember that you’re no Captain Kirk or Mr Spock, and you don’t have the benefit of staying on top of things just because you’re the protagonist of your own show. Stay away from the uncertain, so that you don’t inadvertently say something that causes distress or embarrassment.

How’s work?

Chances are that she’s working somewhere. After all, students have no business being in nightclubs, and those who are unemployed ought to manage their expenditure with more prudence. You are on pretty safe territory here.

You’ll be amazed at the number of people who like to brag about their work, even though it may actually suck. I know people who like to talk about projects they have spearheaded, overseas assignments they have gone for, the number of people they are in charge of, et cetera. Talking about work is a sure-fire way to sustain a conversation.

Broaching this topic is also a neat opportunity to find out whether you’re chatting up a CEO or talking to a clerk. Knowing men – and our larger-than-life egos – I realise that some of you may want to reconsider dating a lawyer whose salary is 10 times bigger than yours.

What does she like to do?

Hobbies. That’s a good thing to talk about too. Pretty harmless, nothing sensitive. Even if she has some weird fetish as her pastime, she’ll probably tell you that she collects stamps. As with work, this topic is pregnant with possibilities. (Don’t read too much into the word “pregnant” here – really!)

Fillers

Given your environs – loud music, booze and all – never rule out the possibility that you won’t have the slightest inkling of what she’s just mumbled.

So have some conversation fillers on standby like “I hear you, I hear you!” (repeat for effect), “Oh … of course”, “Definitely!” and such. Be more high-class and try not to use “Ha?” or “Say again?”.

Finally, be a good listener

Assuming that you’ve got into her good books and are now happily chatting away with her, don’t get so carried away so that you forget one of the cardinal rules of conversation: conversing means exchanging thoughts and information. It’s a two-way process. So don’t forget to listen.

Listening takes effort. Many a time, the other party is just a surreal figure babbling away while we’re framing our thoughts and preparing what we’re going to say next. However, most people need their “air” time, so pay attention to what the other person has to say. See if you can understand, empathise or even disagree. Be prepared to abandon your own train of thought to move along with the conversation; a meaningful conversation is not just about yourself, so you’ve got to play fair.

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