On the surface, this is simple. In fact, right now there are a number of guys looking at their computer screens and muttering, “just walk up and talk to ’em. Duh!”
But for many of us – maybe even most of us – talking to a woman and actually holding her interest is a skill we missed learning while we were busy with sports, or music, or CompSci classes. We were focused on other things, or inhibited, or had a few really awful experiences that kept us in our shells.
So now, we get to a party or event, spot the girl of our dreams – and hey, she’s smiling at us! – but not only can’t we seal the deal, we can’t even get the nerve up to go say “hi.” And to be basic, that’s all that it is: saying “hi.” The truth is, how you say it is more important than what you say. I’ve seen guys who can (and do) say practically anything and get a good response from women, because the guys come off as social and fun.
These eight quick tips should give you a solid starting point. As you practice, they’ll all become natural as you notice you’re feeling more comfortable around “strange” women.
1. Make Eye Contact
The guy who can’t look a woman in the eye will quickly wear out his welcome – as will the one who stares as if it’s a contest. In general, it’s good to maintain eye contact while you’re talking, and then looking away whenever you pause to think, or take a breath, or want to punctuate a story with a facial expression. You can also take your cue from how much eye contact she makes with you. (Of course, if she’s not making much or any eye contact at all, that might be your signal to retreat.)
As you approach and say hi, make sure to smile. This is the first step in assuring her that you’re fun and normal. And keep a relaxed, pleasant facial expression the whole time, while avoiding the “plastic smile” you see from sales clerks and flight attendants. (The part of the brain that can recognize a fake smile is more developed in women than it is in men – it’s true!)
Really, you have good reason to smile: you’re talking to a girl!
3. Start With an Observation
The best “opening line” is no line at all: instead, make a clever/funny/sweet observation about either the environment or her. (“You are so hot!” doesn’t count as an observation.) In your quest to be more observant, you should surely notice something interesting about the environment that you can point out.
One of my most successful approaches was at a pro sports team shop. I had noticed that an Edgar Martinez bobblehead figure looked more like Bret Boone than Edgar Martinez, and vice versa. As my target walked by, I held one in each hand, covering up the name of each player, and asked, “quick: which one is Edgar and which is Bret?” She stared at the bobbleheads for a moment before cracking up and admitting she couldn’t tell. “So if there’s a mix-up at the Chinese bobblehead factory, the elderly women who put the heads on might not even know if they’ve got them wrong? They look at the photo and look at the doll, and shrug and send them down the assembly line?” She was laughing from that moment on.
4. Have Topics Ready
Likewise, you should probably have a few items “on your mind” so the conversation doesn’t flag. These can be more observations, or questions relating to where you are (“How did you find out about this art opening?” “How do you know [party host]?”) and most of them can be thought up in advance. You can even make a little “cheat sheet,” but for God’s sake don’t refer to it while you’re in conversation. And ask follow-up questions when she tells you something.
If all else fails, know your current events – in specific, women are generally ravenous consumers of entertainment news.
5. Stand Easy
Watch your body language! Things like crossing your arms or standing directly in front of and facing her can make her nervous. The keyword here is “open” – stand at a slight angle to her, or just to her side. Keep your arms available for gestures while you talk – keeping the hands visible and open is a subliminal cue for trust. If you’re holding a drink, hold it below chest level instead of the common “guard” position. And put your weight equally on both feet.
6. Have Fun
Of course, you shouldn’t be doing any of this if you’re hating it – your time would be better spent improving your confidence in other ways right now. A bit of nervousness is okay though: although women do see it, you’ll find that often they don’t mind. I’ve accepted a few phone numbers with shaky hands myself.
But the key is to try and enjoy talking to women. The best way to get there is to understand that making yourself smile is a positive result, even if you’re smiling about some awful thing you can’t believe she said to you. This is the reason pickup artists refer to it as a “game”: because it helps them to enjoy the process. You should be making her day by adding a little fun conversation. If she can’t see that, it’s her loss, and at least you got in a little practice for the time you run into someone who’s worth it.
7. Get Out While The Getting’s Good
Which brings us to the “endgame.” If you sense that the conversation is flagging, don’t just stand around her waiting for inspiration to hit. Excuse yourself to check on your friend, or to get some fresh air (maybe she’ll want to come), or to get to an appointment. Tell her it’s been great meeting her and move on. And don’t worry about bailing too early. If you misjudged and she’s actually interested, she’ll give you plenty of opportunity to resume the conversation.
On the other hand, if you’ve really hit it off, bring the conversation around to something interesting you can do together, and make a plan to do it. Right then and there. It’s a million times better than just getting a phone number.
This may not be brain surgery, but if you’ve read this far it probably isn’t second nature either. So practice. You can do just about everything above at any time with anyone: store clerks, waitresses, people in line with you, friends. Especially friends. Even guy friends – being fun and animated in your own social group is also something women notice.
These are all solid basics that will get you to the next level if you implement them. Put in the work and you’ll not only grab the occasional digits, but you’ll also build confidence and a larger circle of friends. I’ll talk more about this later, but for now, what are you waiting for?