Imagine you're on a date where you have only 100 words in common. How do you communicate?
Last spring my friend T.S. traveled to Costa Rica to study Spanish. After some drama involving his roommate and the woman his roommate brought back to the hotel, Marlena, T.S. took Marlena out for breakfast. Normally, this would make for an unremarkable first date, except neither person spoke the other's language. Not very well, anyway.
What can you say without words?
I realized the importance of emotional intelligence. Since my Spanish is very limited, I had to find another way to communicate.
T.S. describes his breakfast as very instructive. Lacking words for most of what he wanted to say, he was left with body language, gestures, and facial expressions, and so was Marlena.
What is someone's vibe?
I've been on alot of first dates. To me, a date's vibe is one of the most important factors in whether I want to see them again. Expressed in the way she sits, stands, leans, smiles, moves and talks, a woman's vibe is still very hard to define. The science of micro-expression, which shows up on our faces for fractions of a second as an indicator of emotion, can give us insight into a date's state of mind, but reading micro-expressions is a deep skill which takes many hours of study to master. Since few of us have the time or interest to specialize that deeply, what can we rely on instead?
Also know as "paying attention." When I hang out with kids, if we're in an idle moment (waiting in line, waiting for food to arrive), I'll sometimes challenge them with a simple observation game.
- How many people are in this room?
- What is the ratio of men-to-women?
- What color is the waiter's hair?
Most kids would complain of boredom or bury their nose in an iPod than pay attention, but mindfulness is an endlessly useful skill. You can develop mindfulness of other people by observing anyone in a bar, coffee shop, or standing in line.
- What is their posture?
- Are they relaxed?
- Are they waiting for someone?
And finally, turn this back to your date. How much can you learn about her without words? You might not learn intimate details of her personal life like Sherlock Holmes, but you can catch her vibe, and learn to express yourself without speaking specific words.