When Jessica recounted what happened on her date last night, her friend was shocked. Jessica can’t even believe that she would say something that catty about another woman…but she did and she made the comment to a really great guy who she’s only been out with a couple of times.
It turns out that the woman Jessica verbally slammed is her date’s cousin whom he admires and highly respects. After her foot-in-mouth moment, the mood between them shifted and became uncomfortable and distant. The rest of their meal was accompanied by a whole lot of awkward silence.
When he dropped her off at her apartment, there was no mention of going out again. Jessica texted him the next day to say “thanks for a great evening,” but he’s not texted back.
We all occasionally say things that we later regret. It happens.
When you’re just getting to know someone and are out together on a date (or maybe hoping to get asked out on a date), communication missteps can turn “interested” into “no way!” Because the other person doesn’t know you very well, he or she is less likely to chock up your rude comment to a “bad day” and not take it personally.
Remember, even the most flippant comments you make say something about you. Even if you didn’t really mean it the way your words came out, your date may think otherwise and this could influence his or her decision to date you again or to take your relationship further.
You’ll make yourself crazy if you stress out and over-analyze everything you say (or are about to say), but do make sure to consider your words before they leap out of your mouth. Especially if you’re thinking something that is inflammatory or a put down, pause and make a conscious decision about whether or not it would be wise for you to say that.
Don’t apologize for what you think and feel.
Know the difference between a communication misstep and a difference of opinion. Just because your date loved a certain movie and you hated it or supports the political party you detest doesn’t mean you should apologize for speaking up about what you think.
In fact, if you try to agree with everything your date says, you’re probably going to come off as fake or trying too hard.
A communication misstep isn’t so much about disagreeing with the other person as it is about speaking in critical, narrow-minded or disrespectful ways, even if you didn’t intend to.
Do back up and say it differently.
When you realize you’ve offended or been unkind, stop and say you’re sorry. Take responsibility for what you just said and sincerely show that you did not intend to be mean or narrow-minded. There’s no need to make excuses or try to explain away what you said. Own it, apologize and then move on with the conversation.
Do ask to hear what your date thinks.
You can actually use a communication misstep to get to know your date a little bit better. Say something like, “It seems like you tensed up when I said _____. I’d like to hear how you feel about the issue. I’m really interested in learning more.” There’s no need to suddenly change your mind. You can be authentic and hear a different perspective on a certain person or subject.
What’s great about sticking your foot in your mouth is that you can use it as a way to show your date that you’re: 1) Willing to admit a mistake and 2) Open to hearing and respecting another point of view. These might not sound all that sexy, but both are very appealing qualities that may be what cause your date to ask you out again.
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