For our business, we meet people all day, every day.
I usually meet with them at an outdoor café, a beautiful hotel or a local (not chain) coffee shop. We sit down, relax and have a conversation about them, their dating life and how we can help them. I make an effort to make them feel at ease so they’re more open and forthcoming with the information they share.
It’s normal to observe people when we first meet them; we look at how they sit, move, carry themselves, order their coffee, etc..It’s our primary glimpse into who they are. I can tell immediately if someone is timid, confident, relaxed, uncomfortable, arrogant, bitter, open, closed, fearful or authentic -- all before they even say a word. It’s part of my job to understand people, what they’re putting out there and how they communicate non-verbally.
I have often noticed that people who use their space comfortably, sit in their chair with ease, use their hands naturally and effectively, have great eye contact and show more than one facial expression seem to be the most confident and engaging. Then there are those who sit very still, with their hands in their lap with a neutral expression on their face. These are the people who are more difficult to read and seem less at ease which in turn makes others feel less at ease. I always encourage men to use their space well since it conveys confidence which invariably helps women relax more.
I was sitting recently with a female client of ours who is gorgeous, very well put together and a self-proclaimed perfectionist. She sat totally erect, with her hands in her lap and very still almost as if she feared making the wrong move. There’s a difference between being poised and being stiff. Since men are looking for levity and playfulness on a first date, I gently suggested that her slight rigidity may have a polarizing effect and suggested she relax and lean in more.
Rigidity or striving for perfection does not breed intimacy; authenticity and a willingness to appear less than perfect does. Since the whole purpose of a first date is to establish rapport and (hopefully) progress to a second date, the more relaxed and open we are, the more likely we can connect with the other person.
The language we speak through our gestures, facial expressions and bodies reveal so much about our state of mind and comfort level. Put it this way, people mirror each other when they are interested in establishing a connection. So if you’re going to sit perfectly still on your side of the table carefully calibrating your every move, your date will probably do the same. If, on the other hand, you sit in a relaxed manner, using your hands naturally, leaning in for greater emphasis and enthusiasm and occupying the space around you with ease, your date will likely do the same which will enhance your level of connection.
So when you show up on that first date, be aware of the messages you are sending. When in doubt, a genuine smile speaks volumes.