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On dates, speak less — and learn more

When I meet with singles, they often tell me that they’re not sure what to say on a first date. I tell them there’s a proven solution for this—one that doesn’t involve a lot of talking.

I tell them to take a deep breath, relax, and listen to their dates. Listening means learning, and the more you learn about your date, the better your response will be when you do speak.

For many people, listening is a skill that must constantly be honed and practiced. It involves being in the moment, focusing on your date, and making as much eye contact as possible. This is harder for some than for others. Some people are just naturally outgoing. It’s part of their nature to speak a lot during conversations. Others sometimes speak a lot to calm their nerves. These traits don’t have to be roadblocks—as long as you know when to stop talking and listen to your date.

That gift of listening will come in handy if a serious relationship blooms. The more you listen, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more you know. Ask many long-term couples why their relationship succeeds, and they’ll tell you how well they know their partner. That doesn’t happen by accident. It happens because they focus on one another—and listen to one another.




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