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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Dating From the Inside Out > 09

Dating From the Inside Out
by Susan S. Davis

The Importance of Effective Initial Communication

In many relationships of all levels, ineffective or poor communication can be the ruination of it. The value of essential communication, real communication, cannot be over-emphasized. This is because the smallest things can turn into enormous issues when people don't effectively communicate. Effective communication (which is much more than talking) includes empathy, sympathy, honesty, compassion, understanding, compromise and unity, through expression and listening. Both expression of thought and intent is equally as important as listening. Without each of those components, there really is no valid dialogue.

Starting Points

Equally important, in the very beginning of a potential relationship, is how dialogue is started with an individual. The first impression, as it has many times been said, is the one that impinges the most in a memory and often lasts the longest.

Once you’ve discovered someone that you are interested in, say, in a social setting, actually approaching him or her can be a daunting task. But if you consider it from a friendship perspective, it can take the stress and worry out of the situation. For example, in a simple, friendly conversation, there is no way to “fail,” because your focus is on having a conversation, rather than asking someone out on a date. People tend to be less intimidated if initial conversations are kept light, and even humorous. Serious subjects are usually best left for later, after you’ve determined you want to really get to know someone. Besides, you wouldn’t want someone to put you on the spot and insist that you bare your soul to a stranger, so likewise, it shouldn’t be done to anyone else.

There are many ways to start a conversation, and one of the easiest is to be aware of what is happening at the moment, and taking it from there. For instance, using the current situation as a launching pad, you can begin by making eye contact, and then comment on something that is happening or something you noticed. Once that’s accomplished, and you have gotten someone’s attention, as long as you keep your intellectual mind-set focused on the current topic, it should be easy to keep the conversation going.

Another way to tackle the initial conversation hurdle is to observe as much as you can about a person before approaching them. For example, do they seem like they are celebrating something? Did you hear them say something interesting, that you’d like to comment on or ask a question about? Is there anything about what they are doing that is something that would make a good conversation opener?

Later on, as you get to know someone a little more, you can try to learn as much about their likes and dislikes, books, music, families, pets, favorite food, birthdays, and so on, from which to build a rapport and really get to know someone. During such conversations, it is often possible to determine if you’re still interested in someone and vice versa.

If you’re stumped as to what to talk about, you can always ask questions. The best types of question to ask involve "why", "how", or "what" - to eliminate the simple "yes", "no", or "maybe" that can cause dead-ends in conversation. An example would be, once you determine a topic of interest, "What did you like/dislike about (topic)?"

Another great way to break the ice is by telling a joke or coming up with a piece of information that concerns the topic of the day or moment.

Non-Verbal Communication Cues
It’s very important to pay attention to non-verbal hints during a conversation with someone you’ve only just met. For instance, if a person is turning away, looking at their watch, seems restless or disinterested, then it’s time to move on. Usually, at social events, or out in public, there are plenty of people to talk to, so if it is apparent that someone is not interested in talking to you, excuse yourself graciously and find someone else to talk with.

During the initial stages of communication with someone, a lot can be learned about any mental chemistry you may have with someone, or the lack thereof. If talking with someone seems difficult or tiresome, this could be a hint that a) either someone is not interested and is just being polite; or b) the communication level of a particular individual doesn’t match well enough with yours to merit continuing to talk to him or her, let alone considering that person as a potential date later on.

No matter how physically attracted you are to someone, always remember that ultimately, there is a lot more to consider than the physical when evaluating a dating prospect. There is either chemistry or not, and that will usually be apparent in talking with someone. People usually inspire dialogue or a desire to be around them, so if it really isn’t there, don’t waste time trying to invent or create something that you’d like to be there, but isn’t. Not only can that be frustrating, but it can also come off as disrespectful to the other person, especially if the reason they are somewhat non-responsive is disinterest rather than a lack of ability to carry on a conversation.

Listening and observing are just as important components in communication as talking; sometimes, even more so. Therefore, if your gut tells you to continue talking to someone, or not to continue, listen to your inner awareness – because often, it’s trying to tell you something that may not always be apparent at first glance.

Susan S. Davis is a published book author and writer, currently doing research for a romantic screenplay she is writing. Her Dating From The Inside Out column is published every Tuesday.

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