Reaching out to someone new carries with it a certain air of expectation and excitement. They’ve caught your eye, and their personal story intrigues you. Communicating solely in writing is not easy for everyone, however, and many feel that their true personality doesn’t come across well on the screen. How, then, can two people best create a fun and interesting mood and keep the communication flowing freely while they decide if things will go further?
Your very first message, whether you’re initiating the contact or not, will set the tone, so be thoughtful and creative. Imagine the two of you are at a bar and have just struck up a conversation. You wouldn’t give a complete personal history in that situation, nor would you expect a verbal essay in response to your simple question, so try to resist the urge to give away all of your secrets at once. Good banter involves give and take in roughly equal amounts, so keep your responses to a length you can reasonably expect in return.
What do you have in common?
Presumably you both have at least something in common, so what better place to start? Travel, food, music and movies are always solid ground for conversation starters, but use their profile information for cues. Asking open-ended questions will keep the conversation flowing, as opposed to questions that can be answered with a yes/no response. ‘Why’ or ‘How’ questions are always useful. Why did you leave your home town? How did you end up in marketing?
Posing scenarios is a novel way of deciphering the finer points of a personality. It tells you who they admire, what they aspire to and what their priorities are in life. It’s a playful way of teasing information out, and forces them to be inventive. Besides, most people quite enjoy toying with the hypothetical. Try something like the following:
- If you could swap lives with anyone for a single day, who would it be and why?
- You can summons 5 people, living or dead, to your dinner party. Who do you invite?
- Great Aunt Gertie has died and left you $1 million in cold, hard cash. What’s your plan?
It’s not a job interview – don’t sum yourself up too early
It’s tempting to take a formal approach in your communication. After all, you know little about this person and their style of communication so far. The key is to picture a friend on the other end of the screen, not an interviewer. They are looking for an equal, so inject your personality into your words. Pay attention to your spelling and grammar, but don’t try and cram too much dense information in there. You might be keen to tell your story in a single, neat entry, but what will you have left to talk about later?
If all goes quiet
Don’t panic if you’re not getting a response. Sure, they might have moved on, lost interest or started communicating with someone they feel is more suited. But they also might be dreadfully busy, or feel like they’ve had too much screen time and need to pull back. Be prepared for any scenario, but a gentle reminder that you’re still enjoying things won’t hurt. If you feel like they’re avoiding you, ask a straight question – do you think you’d like to start chatting again? Being direct when communication falls away can prompt an honest response, and you might still be pleasantly surprised by what it is.
Save the really personal stuff for later
Most of us have experienced turmoil or trauma in our lives, perhaps even recently, but there is a time and place to explain ourselves fully. By talking about it prematurely with a potential mate, we risk changing the tone of the conversation, and admiration and interest can quickly turn to pity.
Try not to let the darker stuff define you at this point – if you make a great connection, you will naturally fall into heavier conversations down the track. For now, focus on what energises you, and don’t be afraid to compliment your potential flame on their writing, their achievements and their ideas. If you find them interesting, go ahead and let them know. If you get stuck for words, remember you’re just two strangers in a bar…