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6 Proven Ways to Succeed with Online Dating

6 Proven Ways to Succeed with Online Dating

Online dating is the greatest invention the world has ever seen. Think about it: it’s like online shopping for sex. You browse profiles, find someone you like and start a conversation. With any luck they will like you back and you can look forward to a new life of love, romance and passionate lovemaking.

In theory.

In reality, it’s like that game at the fun fair where you have to shoot a row of ducks but nobody ever seems to be able to hit the target. Fixed or not, it’s frustrating, and unless you’re a crack Marine Corps sniper, you will often go home empty handed. Online dating is a pain in the ass. As a “veteran” of over 60 internet dates and nearly 10 years of negotiating my way through the many, many websites out there, I know firsthand how arduous and frustrating it can be. I’ve made countless errors, put up stupid pictures, sent even stupider messages and had “sure things” vanish into thin air.

It’s this experience, however, that has enabled me to figure out what the hell I am doing, and I wish to share some of my tips and tricks with you. The following tips are for both men and women and they will hopefully spare you some of the failures that I went through.

1. It’s all about your main profile picture

Many online dating articles and products will try to convince you that what you write for your first message is the most important skill you will ever learn. This is true to a certain extent. For sure, what you write in your opening message and in your profile will dictate a lot of your success with online dating, but the single biggest factor is how someone responds to your profile picture.

It is the first thing they will ever see!

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While your opening message’s content will determine if someone clicks through to your profile, it’s that little thumbnail image that will determine if they open the message at all. This isn’t a universal rule but take women as an examplethe more messages a woman receives each day, the pickier she is going to be. Have you ever deleted an opening message based solely on the thumbnail image? I think everyone has at some point, and imagine how often you would do this if you received 20-50 a day instead of 1 or 2 a week.

Now you get it.

Most attractive women don’t even open all of their messages simply because they can’t be bothered to sift through them all. You have to assume that a quick glance at the thumbnails is all she is going to use to decide whether to open the message, so if your main image isn’t the single best photo you own then you are doing yourself a disservice. No cheesy topless shots, no stuffy formal pictures and no Myspace style self-portraits either—you want a picture that shows you are a relaxed, fun person who has an active social life.

2. The key to writing an interesting profile

It almost doesn’t matter what information you write in your profile as long as you are conveying sincerity and vulnerability. The best way to demonstrate sincerity is to write your main bio in a loose conversational manner without trying to “big” yourself up. This isn’t a CV; you aren’t auditioning for anyone, so don’t write it like you are trying to impress. It will come across as needy, and although you may have the sexiest picture imaginable, your chances of meeting someone are virtually zero if you sound like a douche.

Vulnerability is the essence of opening yourself up without fearing rejection. Are you a geeky chess player? Are you passionate about computer programming? Do you have a fetish for licking stamps? Don’t be afraid of telling people who you are and what you love doing. A truly attractive person is comfortable in their own skin and has the confidence to reveal their thoughts and feelings without caring what anyone else thinks. Ask your best friend or someone you trust to proofread your profile to check that what you have written is a fair and honest representation of your personality and you aren’t coming across like a crazy person.

Unless you want to attract crazy people of course.

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3. That all-important first message

Okay, you’ve sorted out your profile and taken some decent pictures, now you’re ready to send your very first message. What do you do?

First, don’t just send messages out blindly: you have to tailor the message to your goals and the person you are writing to. You don’t want to give a beautiful woman a physical compliment because it won’t have a huge effect on her. Likewise you don’t want to tease someone who comes across like they might not be the most confident person. With regards to messaging men, don’t be overly flirtatious as that can immediately set off their BS detector. Instead, give a man a non-sexual compliment and show interest in something from his profile. Guys, read that last sentence too—it applies both ways.

Common sense goes a long way here:

Read their profile.

Read it again.

Try to find something that most people may have missed. Does she love an obscure movie that you’ve also seen? Has he been to a country that you love? Is she doing a degree in a subject that you have knowledge about? Find something that you can grab hold of and use, whether that’s a specific piece of information or just a vibe you’re getting. Tailor your message around that. It’s hard to figure someone out based on just a few words and a picture or two, but you have to learn to go with your instincts. Unfortunately this will only come with practice, and the more messages you send, the better you will get.

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Online dating is exactly the same as meeting someone the conventional way—it’s purely a numbers game and the quicker you realise this, the better. The more messages you send out, the more replies you will receive. Research has also shown that the best time to send a message is on a Sunday afternoon. That is the time when people are generally bored and are at their computers searching for a bit of companionship after their failed attempts at meeting someone the previous night.

4. How to get away from the internet and on that first date

There are two main ways to transition away from whatever dating site you are using: the first way is a slower process but it’s probably the safest option, while the second is very “high risk-high reward”, but is the quickest method if done correctly.

Option number 1

The slower method is about building trust and rapport. The best way to do this is to suggest moving away from the dating site to a more personal method of communication. Back in the day this was MSN Messenger, but nowadays you could use Facebook chat or WhatsApp. The advantage of Facebook is that you can get more insight into who they are, see more photos, find out the kind of circles they hang out in. It’s slightly stalkerish, but remember; they will get to see everything on your profile too so it’s a fair swap.

WhatsApp is basically an instant messaging service that is available on iPhone, Android and Windows and it involves trading each other’s phone number. From here you can send each other messages throughout the day and it’s a great way to have some fun. After you have built up a little more trust you can then transition to speaking on the phone—hey, you have each other’s number anyway so it makes sense.

Option number 2

You can skip all of this if you want and just go straight for the meet up. To do this effectively you have to use your common sense (I’m sure you have some) and suggest this at the right time. In my experience I would do this after maybe 20-30 emails back and forth. This may seem a lot, but if you are trading several emails a day then this should only take a week to accomplish.

The way that I bring this up is with a casual, “you seem pretty cool, we should meet up soon” comment. It’s very vague amd doesn’t pressure them into giving an immediate answer, yet it shows that your intention is to meet up, not to have a new pen pal. If the response is in any way positive, then go right ahead and suggest a provisional date, like saying “Cool, I am free on Monday to Wednesday evenings and maybe Sunday afternoon; let me know what is best for you”. Give a few options, such as different evenings, mix in a daytime option and sit back and wait. I would say 75% of the time you will get a definitive date set from this, but if not, then as long as you keep emailing each other, you can try again the following week.

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Remember: as long as you keep chatting to each other, the interest is still there. Don’t feel discouraged by an initial “no”, as this could mean anything from feeling worried about meeting someone online to simply being busy with work. Keep building that rapport and don’t moan about it under any circumstances. Accept every decision and show that you understand. Be patient and respectful.

You can always revert back to option 1 at this point.

5. First date dos and don’ts

  • Choose the location yourself; preferably some place where you feel comfortable and that offers the opportunity to sit/walk side by side. Don’t go to dinner, the cinema or sit opposite each other—those promote a sense of detachment.
  • Act like it’s the second date already. Don’t start with an awkward hello and a million questions—chat like you would to a good friend.
  • Don’t offer to pay for a drink, just go ahead and do it. If they object, just tell them the next round is on them, (or next time if it’s only a quick meet).
  • The key to building rapport is to qualify and comfort. Listen intently and demonstrate an understanding or approval or what they are saying, then follow up with a similar story/example from your own life. For example: “I can’t believe you climbed Kilimanjaro, that is such a cool story—I’ve always wanted to do that but the closest I’ve got to that is a hike up Ben Nevis, which was cool in its own way because…”
  • Go ahead and talk about your online dating experiences—you can laugh about all of the crazy weird messages you each receive.
  • Don’t reveal how many people you have met up with if it’s more than 5 in a 1-year period, or if the person you are meeting is inexperienced at this.
  • If there has been some flirting and you feel that you have both enjoyed the date, don’t be afraid to go for the kiss. It is rare that you will receive a rejection and it demonstrates attractive qualities.
  • Use common sense, but don’t use fear as an excuse not to make the move.
  • Remember that you are not trying to sell yourself. Go in with the mindset that you are trying to find out if this person meets YOUR standards, not the other way round. Be friendly, flirty, funny and conversational without being needy.
  • Don’t ask for a second date—just state that you would like to see them again and you’ll be in touch soon to arrange something.

6. Finally, some important points to remember

You will have no doubt seen those tabloid internet dating horror stories, but they are so rare it’s not even worth worrying about. Meeting someone online is probably the safest method of dating. I say this because you have the option to check out everything about them before that first date, which is something you can’t do if you meet someone in a bar or club. If employers can use the internet to check out potential employees then you can do the same.

On a semi related note, make sure that the photos you have seen are genuine. If you can’t see their Facebook page or if their dating profile only has 1 photo then it is okay to ask to see a few more. I personally will never meet up with anyone if I haven’t had a good look at their photos. This isn’t being shallow at all, it’s simply reducing the chances of being conned into meeting someone who is 50 lbs heavier than their photo or is in any way trying to pass themselves off as better looking than they really are.

You can spot a fake profile a mile off; it’s really easy. If there is just 1 photo of someone with above average looks, little in the way of profile information, mentions sex in any way whatsoever, or uses their first and last name together then move on. It’s not worth the hassle. Similarly, guys: as you know, women don’t usually send out that first message so if you receive a message from a really hot woman and you feel uneasy about it, feel free to reply but beware—check those trigger signs I just mentioned and use your instincts and intuition.

Girls: you WILL receive messages from guys asking for sex. It happens, so it’s best that you’re aware of it from the outset. The majority of these guys are harmless and just lack social skills. The best way to deal with these is not to reply at all, not even a polite “no thanks”. Only reply to the guys that have put a little thought into the opening message.

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So that’s it. Online dating is a bit scary if you have never done it before, but hopefully this guide (whilst covering the basics) is enough to get you started, and providing that you follow my advice about using your common sense and instincts, you’ll have a great time. Enjoy yourself and stay safe!

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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