Thursday, 28 February 2013

Breaking the Ice, approaching and talking to Girls and Guys

Jeremy Nicholson who calls himself the “Attraction Doctor” wrote an interesting article a couple of years ago regarding, approaching and talking to people you find attractive. These are essentially persuasion techniques that can be used in the dating game.

Social and Personality Psychologist Jeremy Nicholson suggests that approaching someone is difficult because you are often opening yourself up for evaluation. Essentially, you’re saying "I like you"...and asking "do you like me"? This gives the other person all of the "power" and "influence" in the situation. They are in a position to "take you" or "leave you", without you having much more say in the matter.

Considering this, it is no wonder breaking the ice and making the first move is so hard. Who would knowingly want to put themselves in a position of vulnerability? That is the reason why many women prefer to be "attractive" and try to motivate the man to approach them. It is also the reason why many men refuse to do so.

Fortunately, there are other ways to approach and start a conversation without feeling vulnerable opening yourself up to evaluation. In fact, sometimes these techniques are even more persuasive than the "direct approach".

1) Make a Statement (Probably the best for approaching someone you haven’t met before).

This is simply saying something to the other person or about the general situation, without desiring a response from them at all. It is just you expressing your opinion (but keep it positive).

Simple examples..…."I love the coffee here"! "It is a great day today". These are pretty lame conversation starters, but said with confidence and a slight smile, carry a lot of weight. And if the other person is at all interested, he or she will continue the conversation with another statement and if you’ve done it well- a smile (then you’re golden!). If they are not interested and say nothing, no worries because you haven’t risked anything- no vulnerability. You were just being a nice guy or girl. You have simply made a statement.

2) Evaluation (better for approaching someone you kind of know)

Most approaches go wrong because the person is trying to impress. They are trying to "earn" the other individual's interest or attraction. Essentially, they are opening themselves up to "being judged"...rather than evaluating or screening the other person.

So, rather than letting them evaluate you, evaluating them instead! Ask them something that will qualify them as a partner and see whether they pass. For example, ask them how they take their coffee (and tease them if it is gross). Ask them why they are shopping on a Sunday afternoon. Ask them if they can make an omelette. Ask them what music they like. Just keep it somewhat fun, flirty, and a bit evaluative of THEM. You're NOT asking what they think of YOU in any way.

It puts them out there to impress you while you get to judge them and essentially gives you all the power (which is attractive). But be careful, don’t question them on the materialistic stuff (like their clothes, car or watch), that’s stuff that can be compared quite quickly and obviously to your wealth and can put them back in the power seat if they are loaded (a bit plastic but sadly true) or it can make them feel a little unsettled if you are better off. So keep it more personal. Also some people do question others to excess (you know those types..). So, when someone answers your question, give them a little back in return!

3) Ask a Favour (better for approaching someone you sort of know).

Rather than putting yourself out there for a vulnerable evaluation, get the other person to invest a little first. Ask them to do something for you. Make a request. This could even be something small like, "could you grab me a straw"? Or, "could you watch my stuff for a minute while I get a coffee"? Frankly, any small request will do the trick.

This psychological technique of persuasion known as the Ben Franklin Effect, it is the phenomenon where people like others more when they do a favour for them (Jecker & Landry, 1969). That is, when the OTHER PERSON does a favour for you, THEY like you more. So, forget about buying them the drink as an opener...and ask for one instead!


It is possible to get to know someone else, without throwing yourself at their mercy. In fact, the approaches above demonstrate you are strong, confident, attractive...and not in need of their judgment or validation. So, rather than believing some stranger is "great" and you need to "earn" them, use one or more of the techniques above. The basic idea is to keep your "footing" of power, and have a better shot at getting a date!

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