By Barbara Pierce
You’d like to get to know that woman who works in your building, or the one you see when you stop for coffee or maybe the one who walks her dog past your house.
To get to know her better, you’re going to have to talk to her. Starting a conversation with a stranger isn’t easy. She may be just as nervous about it as you.
Here are some tips to get on the right track:
• Look for positive signals: You don’t want to approach just any woman — you need to look for signals. Sometimes these signals are obvious. If she looks directly at you and smiles or says something to you — these are hugely positive signals. Signals that she might not welcome your approach: if she looks angry, upset or preoccupied, or has closed body language.
Keep your body language open, communicate with your body that you’re approachable. Arms or legs crossed in front of your body say “keep away.” Make eye contact, smile. See how she responds. Eye contact and body language are crucial when it comes to talking to women. They usually tell you more about how she feels than words.
As you’re approaching her and making eye contact with her, be sure that she makes eye contact with you. If she doesn’t, don’t bother trying to start a conversation with her. She’s not interested in you. But don’t take it personally, you’re just not the right person for her or it’s not the right time for her. Save yourself.
• Keep it simple: Walk up to her and say, “Hey! How’re you doing?” Say anything just to break the ice; sometimes the simplest approaches are best. It doesn’t matter what you say. You don’t have to be witty. It’s OK to be trite. The point is simply to get a conversation started.
Flattery is something we all like to hear. You could start by complementing her on something about herself, or something she is wearing or carrying.
Or ask a question about where you are, how she came to be there. Don’t ask a question that she can just say “yes” or “no” to answer. Instead, ask an open-ended question that she has to respond to with more than a “yes” or “no.” Then respond with something about yourself and why you’re there.
• Be prepared for conversation: If you get past the ice-breaking stage, you’ll need to be able to continue the conversation.
It helps to prepare beforehand—find out the scores of sporting events from last night, look through or listen to the news to find interesting tidbits, and be aware of local events. Or, prepare with having some interesting anecdotes and stories to talk about. Or maybe something about the location where you’re meeting.
While you’re in the location waiting for her, take note of interesting characters or things around you. You might see someone with a weird outfit on or an out-there hairstyle. If the conversation starts to lag a bit, you can make a quick joke about something you see around you.
The benefit of being prepared increases the chances that your conversation will go well and it decreases your level of nervousness because you’re going into the unknown conversation with a plan.
• Be confident or fake it: Obviously, this is easier said than done. You’re nervous. Maybe you’re beyond nervous. Maybe you feel you’re going to vomit all over your shoes and look like a complete and total idiot. That’s completely normal. So even if you’re not confident, the key is to pretend you are. Fake it.
Most women prefer a guy who appears confident. So put on a brave face, stick your chest out, and pretend you believe in yourself. If you pretend enough, eventually you won’t be pretending anymore.
• Seal the deal: If, after your opening chat, you’re still interested in knowing her better, you’ll need to get her number or set up a time to get together.
I asked my male friends how they handle this situation.
Andy said: “Here’s how I’ve handled it: I’ve just said ‘Hey, I like you. I’d like to get to know you better. Are you interested?’ This has worked really well for me. There’s no need for games or beating around the bush.”
Scott agreed: “Just like that. It’s not desperate or clingy. Just say ‘I’d like to get to know you better. Want to meet for lunch sometime?’”
If you follow these tips, more likely than not, when you ask her out, she’ll say yes. A survey showed that most women knew within minutes after first meeting a guy that they wanted to go out with him. She knows it right away. All you have to do is ask!
Barbara Pierce is a retired licensed clinical social worker with many years of experience helping people. If you would like to purchase a copy of her book, “When You Come to the Edge: Aging” or if you have questions for her, contact her at email@example.com.