Monday, April 12, 2010

How to Talk to Guys

Spring brings more opportunities to socialize: outdoor happy hours, rooftop parties, drunken kickball games.

There’s an increase in eligible bachelors in close proximity, but how do you increase your chances of hitting it off with one of them?

Most guys will tell you that the more attention you give a girl, the easier it is to bring her home at the end of the night.

A similar strategy can win guys over as well. They might not be as easily swayed by attention alone, but you can make a good impression with a great conversation.

The more favorably a guy remembers a conversation with you, the more likely he’ll be to remember you in favorable terms.

People associate feelings with the situations surrounding those sentiments. When the guy looks back on the conversation, he’ll think, I enjoyed talking to her, therefore, I must enjoy her.

But how do you guarantee a good conversation? It’s actually much easier than you’d think.

You capitalize on two things that people love: talking about themselves and hearing their own names.

We all love talking about ourselves, but we also recognize that manners and basic social norms punish people for making themselves the number one topic of conversation. (Like the friends you avoid because they only talk about themselves.)

A skilled conversationalist makes someone forget that he’s committing a social taboo by engaging him on his favorite subject: himself.

But you don’t want to pounce on a guy and start interrogating him immediately after exchanging names (i.e., asking “What’s your favorite color? What do you do? Where do you live? How many siblings do you have?” before the guy can get a word in edgewise).

Here’s how it works: let the conversation develop naturally at first. But when you hit on something interesting/unique, start asking questions. You want him to feel like an expert in a subject that happens to fascinate you.

So let’s say he mentions that he studied archeology in college. Casually ask him what digs are like. Avoid yes or no questions, and, if you’re really stuck, ask him to explain something complicated (and give him the opportunity to show off useless knowledge).

Again, avoid interrogation. Really listen to what he’s saying—don’t use his response as an opportunity to think up the next unrelated question. Pause after his response, and briefly turn the spotlight on you (i.e., say I/me a couple of times) before asking another question. So if he says, “Yeah, the financial crisis has really hit the archeology industry pretty hard,” say something like, “Yeah, I was really into those Indian Jones movies when I was little, but I feel like their jobs were totally unrealistic. But even with a degree from such a great school [a little flattery never hurts], it’s still hard?”

But don’t turn the conversation back to you. Don’t use his aside as a segue to make it all about you. Keep the focus on him.

If a friend comes up to you, introduce your new companion—and use his name. People love hearing the sound of their own names, and while you don’t want to overdo it (i.e., don’t drop his name in one-on-one conversation--unless you're trying to channel your inner used car salesman), make sure to use his name in place of pronouns whenever you can.

But don’t spend the entire night with him either. After a half-hour conversation, excuse yourself and go mingle. Leave him wanting more, and let him come up to you to continue the conversation.

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