Do you get nervous on your first coffee date? For some, a coffee date can be as anxiety-provoking as a job interview. You want to say the right things, make a good first impression, and hopefully get a second “date-interview” but navigating that first conversation can be tricky.
Here are ten tips to razzle and dazzle your date during your first coffee date.
Do your research before you meet your date for the first time. What specific questions do you have based on their online presence? If they have indicated an interest in something you know little about, say rock climbing, why not learn a little about this in advance to talk intelligently about something they care about. And don’t forget to skim the news so you are up-to-date on current events!
- Use the right tone
Making a great first impression is far more than saying the right things. Research shows that tone and body language are even more important than words. If you say, “I am so happy to meet you,” without a smile, eye contact, or confident posture, your words will fall flat. Long after your date forgets what you said, they will still remember how you said it.
- Don’t say too much
There is such a thing as TMI. Trust grows over time, and there is no need to be an open book right from the get-go. Maintaining some mystery about your past, interests, and accomplishments can be a good thing. Trying too hard to impress can potentially backfire as it may come across as needy and insecure. Sometimes less is more.
- Don’t say too little
That said, conversations shouldn’t be like pulling teeth. They should be give and take, and a healthy exchange of information. Don’t let your date take all the responsibility for keeping the conversation flowing. Respond thoughtfully to questions, and be fully engaged in the conversation by asking good questions too.
- Be positive
Never trash talk. People are drawn to positive energy so talking negatively about your ex, your employer or your family (even if you have legitimate beefs) may not position you in the best light. It’s possible to be “factual” about negative experiences, e.g., “We didn’t share the same values around honesty,” rather than show hostility e.g., “She was a lying manipulative monster.”
- Decline politely
Your date may ask sensitive or overly personal questions that you don’t want to answer. Rather than act defensive or be dismissive by snapping “Next question” you can politely inquire why the question is important to them, and what insights they hope to gain. You can also politely decline to answer by saying, “I appreciate your interest, but I’m not quite ready to talk about that.”
What you say is important, and how you say it even more so. But there is also a real art in listening. Encourage your date to talk, ask intelligent follow-up questions, and don’t interrupt or finish their sentences. You’ve seen the quote from Epictetus (ancient Greek philosopher): “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
- Be Yourself
It’s better your date get to know the “real” you so be confident about who you are. If you have a wicked sense of humour, don’t be too serious. If you normally swear like a sailor, don’t pretend to be prim and proper. Be yourself rather than play into what you think your date expects you to be. You can’t fake being someone you are not for too long.
- Show empathy
Your date may be anxious even if it doesn’t show. They may say things they didn’t mean to say, or things may come out wrong. While first impressions are important, they are not always a reliable indicator of what a person is really like. Try not to judge too quickly. Ask for clarification with an open mind, and give them a second chance.
- Be honest
Every coffee date ends. Some lead to second dates, and some don’t. Be honest about your expectations. If you had a great time say so, and propose a second date. If you know there will likely never be a great fit, be gracious and thank them for meeting. In an ideal world, both you and your date will want the same outcomes –but if not, at least you enjoyed a great cup of coffee together!