Learn to trigger the conversation is a good start. Good communication makes you attractive and entertaining company, and helps build your confidence and connections. Being able to jump on and stay on a steady train of thought makes you a great conversational partner. To trigger the conversation is as much instinct as it is conscious thought; if you feel the conversation steering in one direction or another, allow it to plow its natural course. Relax! Communication is one of the greatest accomplishments of evolution’s shaping of the human race, and you don’t have to work to engage in it. You should, however, cultivate a clear understanding of what it means to trigger the conversation; if you do this, you will carry the talk at any party or gathering and avoid all awkwardness and uncertainty.
Learn to create a lot more social energy and dynamic tension. You enter comfort as soon as you both accept that you are attracted to each other. You leave comfort (and go into seduction) as soon as you escalate to touching.
- Voice Tone
- Body Language
- Value and Feeling Words
- Magic Questions
- Comical Attraction
- Poetic Language
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Trigger the Conversation Around You
Sometimes, having to trigger the conversation is a matter of finding where to start. If you are having dinner or a get-together, and you have any doubts about keeping up a steady conversation on nothing but your wits and instincts, bring a good conversation piece along. This can be anything that reveals a mystery about you. Effectively, you are giving the other person a reason to talk to you by making yourself appear interesting and having an obvious talking point.
No matter what you’re interested in or what speaks to your life or personality, you can bring along a great talking piece. Here are some ideas: If you’re an art person, choose one of your pieces that has a great story or meaning behind it. Display it prominently in your house if the date is at your place, or bring it with you and keep it nearby. If you love to be stylish, wear an unusual piece of jewelry that you obtained in some interesting fashion. If you enjoy a certain type of literature, bring your current read along with you. If pets are allowed where you’re going, bring along your faithful companion!
Trigger the Conversation: Searching for Cues
You will never run out of things to trigger conversations if you are careful about observing your surroundings. Is there something striking about the décor? Bringing up an intimate detail about a new location makes you seem observant and connected to the world around you.
- Perhaps you’re the one creating the décor, in your own home.
- Place an interesting book in plain view, or hang mysterious photographs on the wall.
- Seat your guest so that he or she faces these unusual decorations and is compelled to comment.
Use the food or drinks as a starting point. Everyone loves an intelligent food critic! If you find yourself in the kitchen, you have an endless supply of conversation starters all around you—an unusual kitchen appliance or exotic spice collection can kick off a culinary conversation or a restaurant disaster story.
Trigger the Conversation: Avoid Intimidating Questions
Ask questions to understand, never to make your point or shut them down. Asking the wrong questions or asking in an intimidating manner closes them off to effective communication and makes them shy away from you.
An example of an unintimidating question: Can you help me understand what makes you feel this way? Other possibilities include, “What is an alternative?,” “What do you mean when you say that?,” and, “I think I understand, but can you clarify for me?”
Use questions to gain an understanding of the other person’s perspective and to create a common understanding. Asking questions, especially those that request clarification, prevents us from jumping to conclusions. When you do ask, drop the intimidation factor by metaphorically stepping back and giving the other person a chance to consider the question and formulate their answer. Waiting patiently for the answer will show them you care, and let them give you a thoughtful response instead of something rushed and half-thought-through.
Find questions that peel away layers of meaning for the other person and help you understand their perspective. If one question does not work, try phrasing it another way. Persistence is the key.
Not everyone is receptive to answering questions, particularly of a personal nature. Be sure that when you ask questions, you are not being intrusive. Be aware of your own nonverbal and verbal cues when asking questions, and pay attention to theirs as well. Your partner may not be ready or comfortable to answer your question at that time.
For others, questions may interrupt their train of thought. If asking questions don’t seem to be working, try making a request instead. Phrase your inquiry as an earnest plea:
“I’m having a little difficulty understanding. Please help me to understand what you are trying to tell me.”
These kinds of questions, phrased as something besides a question, are less threatening and allow people to describe and explain their perspective, and to feel as though it were completely their choice to do so. Making requests may prevent your conversational partner from becoming defensive and allow for an exchange of perspectives.
The 70/30 Rule
Listening is the first language mode that we acquire, long before we start babbling nonsensical phrases. Your job as a conversational partner learning about someone and really engaging in their story is to get the person talking so that you are listening about seventy percent of the time. The other thirty percent of the time, you should be asking questions, starting with what, who, where, when, why, and how.
Be prepared before a date; create a list of questions that will uncover values, and adapt them to the other person’s validation words. As you proceed to ask the questions, you can also expect the other person to ask you questions. Allow them to apply the 70/30 rule to you at some point as well, because otherwise you just become an interrogator, grilling them for information but keeping yourself completely in shadow.
While these questions are an absolute must for couples to ask while dating, over 700 of the questions are crucial for married couples to discuss too.
Trigger the Conversation: Using Power Question
From, “Did you sleep well?” to “What are your plans today?” to “What was the best part of your day?” we are constantly asking and answering questions. It’s a part of the human curiosity. So, simply asking questions is not enough—your date already gets that from everyone else in his or her life. Instead, start asking power questions. These are good questions to ask to get to know someone really well, and allow both you and your partner to hold to your beliefs and be true to yourselves while revealing yourselves in a non-threatening environment. Using power question gives you the tools to get inside the heart and mind of anyone you meet.
Closed questions require a one or two-word response, and can be answered with as little as a nod of the head. Closed questions may also give the impression of there being an elicit right or wrong answer, making your partner feel quizzed or interrogated. Open-ended questions allow someone to express whatever they may be thinking about a topic. Open-ended questions don’t demand a response, but rather leave space for the person to answer thoughtfully.
To keep a conversation going in a fruitful direction, learn to ask open-ended questions. For example, “Dinner was good, huh?” is a closed-ended question that may get the bland response, “Yep.” On the other hand, asking, “What did you most enjoy about our meal?” is an open-ended question, giving the person the chance to express their opinions.
Here is a sample of constructive power questions. Any of these questions can lead straight into a full-blown dialogue, and you may not have to be intentional about another question for the rest of the evening. What do you want? What do you desire? What do you think you need? What do you think you deserve? What did you do or experience in the past that you want to repeat? What did you do or experience in the past that you want to avoid? What scares you? What makes you happy? What makes you feel sexy? What is really important in your life? What is really important for you in a relationship? What is really important to you in a person you’d desire to date? How do you decide to go out with someone? What makes you feel good about yourself? What makes you feel good on a date? What would you desire to experience with a man (or woman)? How would you describe an ideal relationship?
Keep in mind that your questions must not only be open-ended but invite further discussion or clarification. A question like, “What color is that moon?” evokes a one-word answer. However, if you really want to know what color they believe the moon is, you can rephrase it to be an open-ended question: “Describe to me the colors of the moon. What does it remind you of?” There is no right or wrong answer here, and your phrasing makes it clear that you are expecting no particular response except their honest one.
Perhaps the most famous (or infamous) open-ended question is “How does this make you feel?” It is widely used for a reason: it is incredibly effective. If you are afraid of sounding like their therapist, consider using these variations, which also ask for their feelings on the subject but do not do so directly:
Can you create―
What are some of the possible consequences―
Trigger the Conversation: Find What You Need
Your intent in asking open-ended questions is to get the respondent to answer in their own words so you can better understand them as a person. An open-ended question is designed to encourage a full, meaningful answer using the subject’s own knowledge and/or feelings. This information is very useful as you navigate the waters of a new relationship.
Here are other examples of open-ended questions: What are your goals? What is preventing you from fulfilling your dreams? How would you describe your experience with life? How would you describe a specific experience? What did it look, feel, and sound like? How do you know when things are working? How do you feel about?
Although open-ended questions are very useful in romantic situations, they are not the only kind of questions. Ask the type of questions that will help you uncover the information you need.
- Open-ended Questions: Use these to encourage a partner to open up and talk at length.
- Directing Questions: Use these to obtain a specific answer or move the conversation in a specific direction; lead them with your questions to the conclusion you’ve already arrived at.
- Fact-Finding Questions: Use these to gather objective information.
- Close-Ended Questions: Use these to focus the conversation or reach a conclusion.
A deliberate sequence of questioning will take the conversation where you need to go (in some cases, you will not know the destination; in others, you will be certain of where you want to end up). First, determine what information you need and figure out what mix of open-ended, directing, fact-finding, and close-ended questions will keep the discussion on track so you can get it. As you speak, constantly evaluate the effectiveness of your questions and adjust accordingly. Do not assume that a person will always open up with open-ended questions. If you’re having trouble getting straight answers, focus on close-ended questions.
The problem here is that if you start off asking logical, factual questions, you have to be prepared to tease or be playful if they give you logical, factual answers.
Think about the people to whom you go for advice. They are not the hard, practical ones who can tell you exactly what to do; they are the listeners. Be a listener, not an advisor, and soon you may find yourself asked to give your opinion and share your expertise.
No matter what combination of questions you find yourself needing, try to avoid yes/no questions, as they’re usually a dead end. Let your questions invite opinions, thoughts, and feelings; encourage participation; establish rapport; stimulate discussion, and maintain a balance between facilitator and participant.
The following list of questions can help stimulate conversation of the open-ended sort, and in the process, you may discover a lot about the other person’s values.
What are the challenges in your line of work? What are the easy aspects? What do you like or dislike about your job? How would your friends describe you? What do you think I am like? What is your first childhood memory? What was your most pleasant school years memory? Can you describe your first day at school? In what period of your life were you most popular? Do you remember the first time you fell seriously in love? How did it happen? What was the happiest moment of your life? What role would you like to play a movie? What achievements have brought you the most joy? How well do you know yourself? Do you like living here? Do you have a lot of men (or women) pursuing you? What qualities do you look for in a man (or woman)?
Magic Lives in the Answer
Probing questions take us below the exterior to the heart of the matter. They maneuver somewhat like the archeologist’s tools, brushing and clearing away the surface dust, cutting through the accumulated grime and debris to unveil the outlines and ridges of some treasure.
Seducers beware the magic lives in the answer to the question, not in the wand.
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