Even for the most seasoned among us, putting yourself out there can be nerve-wracking. There’s no official rulebook for dating, and talking to women is really difficult when you don’t have the right tools. Luckily for you, we’ve put together our favorite expert advice to make conversations with the ladies less intimidating.
If you want to get good at talking to women, first you need to get good at talking to yourself. Self-talk refers to the internal monologue we all keep about ourselves. It includes specific beliefs and unconscious patterns. Researchers say that the impact of our self-talk – both positive and negative – has a big impact on the way we show up in the world.
Our brains are wired to seek positive experiences and to run away from painful ones. This means that we remember criticism and negative opinions more often than positive ones. It also takes more positive messaging to undo the impact of a hurtful comment. Unfortunately for us, this is true even when the commenter is our own brain.
So what does this have to do with talking to women? The way you think about yourself can actually help you change your behavior. Telling yourself that you’re cool, confident, and charismatic can actually start making it true. Confidence is attractive, so replace negative beliefs about yourself with positive affirmations.
This technique can apply to the things you do as well. Just by imagining something going positively, you can decrease your stress level, thereby increasing your odds of that event going well. Remind yourself that you don’t have to be perfect, and it’s okay if things aren’t 100% smooth yet.
One effective way to get more confident with the ladies is through something called gradual exposure. Essentially, this just means taking small steps and progressing forward as slowly or as quickly as you need to. By gradually exposing yourself to social situations, you will gain experience and confidence. Start with less intimidating settings and work your way up to more challenging ones.
Researchers tested this in an experiment. They studied how socially anxious and socially confident men reacted to a woman approaching them at a simulated party. They wanted to see if either group’s level of anxiety changed throughout the interaction. Not surprisingly, both groups of men became more nervous when approached by this virtual woman.
As the conversation progressed, both groups of men became more calm and confident. The real surprise was in comparing the pre- and post-test results for the two groups. The confident men’s scores didn’t change much, but the socially anxious men’s scores on the measure dropped significantly. This shows us that a great way to learn how to talk to women is to, well, talk to them.
One thing that certainly won’t help you is giving in to your nerves. According to this Harvard Business Review article, deep breathing techniques have been effective in reducing stress and promoting relaxation. This is because the way we breathe and the way we feel are intimately linked.
Different emotions have been found to be associated with different breathing patterns. By consciously slowing your breath to a more relaxed pace, you can actually make yourself feel more relaxed. This will allow you to approach conversations with a more clear head, making it easier for you to talk to women.
Talking to women is about more than just the words you exchange. There is another level of communication happening unconsciously. Even before you say a word, you’re sending messages with your body language and other nonverbal cues.
The easiest change you can make is to your body language. Keep your arms and legs uncrossed, and stand tall with your shoulders back and relaxed. This makes you appear more open and confident. This study found that open posture predicted whether respondents found a person attractive more than any other trait.
Stay in the moment, and don’t be afraid to follow her lead. According to body language expert Vanessa Van Edwards, women are better at sending and receiving nonverbal cues like eye contact and facial expressions. In fact, when it comes to flirting, women actually initiate interactions more often using nonverbal cues.
Van Edwards says that there are several signals hidden in her body language to clue you in. These can be anything from lingering eye contact to a subtle hair flip. The important thing to remember is that none of these signals is more important than the words she says. If she’s not receptive to your approach, the most gentlemanly thing to do is move on.
Good Questions, Great Conversations
To be good at talking to women, you need to learn to ask good questions. Experts say that this is a fundamental part of how women have conversations. In general, women are searching for connection in their conversations. They focus on finding common ground and shared experiences.
A great question does so much more than encourage her to open up about herself. Intimacy educator Shan Boodram tells Women’s Health that it reveals information about you as well. By asking good questions, you can subtly communicate things about your values, your lifestyle, and your goals. The article goes on to include several expert opinions on how—and when—to ask the right questions.
To break the ice, you should keep questions fun and light-hearted. Ask her about her favorite TV shows or where she’s from. Your first conversation is about making a connection, so stay away from more personal things like finances, love languages, and anything overtly sexual for now. You’ll have plenty of time to get into those topics when you know her a little better.
Starting a Conversation
The key to approaching women is to keep it casual. Start by making small talk. According to expert Dr. Gillian Sandstrom, there is a formula you can use to practice. The main method has three steps, with bonus techniques to try once you get the hang of it.
Step 1: Anchor
Start by commenting on something you both share. This could be an object in your space, like a painting on the wall or a rug. If you share a friend or an acquaintance, this is a great option, too. This invites your conversation partner into a shared reality where you’re on the same team, so to speak.
Step 2: Reveal
The next step is to reveal a little more detail about yourself via your chosen topic. If she agrees that the painting is nice, you could elaborate a bit on what you like. If she remembers Dan from Accounting, you could tell her you think he’s a great guy.
Step 3: Encourage
Communication is a two-way street, so be sure not to dominate the conversation. This part of Sandstrom’s method is about asking questions. Ask her if she likes art, or how she met your mutual friend, Dan. This will encourage her to participate in the conversation and offer information of her own.
Bonus: Be Generous and Specific
The easiest way to kill a conversation – and the mood – is by giving short, generalized answers. Don’t be afraid to share a little about yourself. If you’re talking about the rainy weather outside, you could tell her that you like to go to the movies when it rains. From here, you can take the conversation in any number of directions.
Your interest in each other drives these kinds of interactions, so when you talk to women, it’s important to stay curious. The key is to actively listen for details that you can use to keep the conversation rolling. Ask her questions, and thoughtfully consider her responses. This genuine curiosity will tell her that you want to get to know her on a deeper level.
Learning how to talk to women is a gradual process, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Don’t beat yourself up if you have an awkward moment here and there. You’re human, and even the smoothest operator will sometimes slip up. Ultimately, talking to women is all about being present in the moment and staying true to yourself.