Dating - Get What You Want!

Communication expert Laurie Puhn shares the secrets that will unlock your powers of persuasion and win people over.

he realm of romance is full of those moments of 20/20 hindsight—you know, where you think, “I should have said…” or “Oh, if only I’d asked my date about…” And it’s also packed with those times when you sit and ponder, “He said this, but was he really trying to tell me something else?”

Break out of the wishing-and-wondering habit and learn how to communicate really effectively on a date. How? With the help of Laurie Puhn, communication expert and best-selling author of Instant Persuasion. She recently participated in one of our live chats, answering questions from Happen readers. Here, we share the highlights, as Laurie shows you how to be clear about what you need out of a relationship—and get exactly that.

Q: I communicate for a living but when it comes to my personal life I don't seem to be able to “get my way.” What's up with that?
A: Communicating on a date or in a relationship isn't about getting your way. The purpose of communication is to reveal your true self and to be open enough that the other person is persuaded to want to be open with you in return, persuaded to want to help you meet your needs.
The purpose of communication is to reveal your true self and to be open enough that the other person is persuaded to be open with you in return.
This is how you reach a mutually beneficial relationship. That's the purpose of persuasion in personal life: to create a win-win situation.

Q: How can I get my first date to ask me on a second date?
A: You want to make sure to ask him questions during the first date, about his life, about his day, about himself in general. That's the best way to show someone you're interested. And it persuades him to take interest in you.

Q: As a man, what is the best way to make a first connection in a public place—say, at a restaurant?
A: If you're randomly approaching someone, you want to smile, say something about the restaurant or place you're in, or why you like it. She is there so obviously likes it too, so you'll have something to talk about.

Q: I have very little dating confidence, and I know it shows. What can I do to give off a more confident vibe?
A: Try to go on dates during the day where you don't feel as much pressure. Go to a coffee shop, a museum. Do something you'd normally do anyway, but take a date.

Q: I can't seem to get past the first date! I think I make a good impression and chat easily. What am I doing wrong?
A: A major mistake daters make is that they complain while on a date. They might complain about their job or their family or their friends. They think this makes them look open and honest and interesting, but it actually persuades people to dislike them because they are pessimistic. Think about whether you might, unintentionally, be this type of complainer.

Q: How can I find out if the man I’m dating considers me a potential long-term partner?
A: You have to ask yourself questions and accept things that may be hard. Such as does he call you during the week? Does he involve you in multiple
A major mistake daters make is complaining while on a date. They think this makes them seem open and honest, but it actually persuades people that they are pessimistic.
aspects of his life? Has he introduced you to his family? Does he help you out when you get very busy? Does he volunteer to do things for you? If the answers are yes, then he may be in it for the long run. If the answers are mostly no’s and he isn't integrating you into his life, then the relationship is short-term. But there is hope that it can change if you express your intentions in a persuasive way by letting him know why you care about him and what he means to you.

Q: Previous girlfriends have accused me of being overly defensive, when I'm just trying to stand up for myself. What can I do to prevent this from affecting my next relationship?
A: Create a new trigger for yourself. The moment you feel defensive is the moment you should change your words and ask a question, such as “Why do you think that?” Listen to the answer. You might discover your date was never against you and there was nothing you needed to stand up for. Your words are powerful. If you change your words ever so slightly, you change how people respond to you, and you change your life. That's the message of my book Instant Persuasion.

Q: I tend to be shy with people I don't know, and I'm worried that I make a bad first impression with dates. What can I do?
A: You can ask the person questions. Perfect your skills as a good listener by asking follow-up questions. Making the other person the center of your attention will help put you at ease, and you'll persuade him to become interested in you.

Q: I have a hard time trusting women because I've been burned more than once. What are some ways I can communicate this and figure out if a woman is being sincere?
A: Be sincere yourself—your honesty will eventually drive her away if she’s insincere. Keep in mind that everybody gets burned—the difference between the winners and the losers is that winners bounce back. And that's true in every aspect of our lives. Winners aren't luckier. Winners are
Find out if a woman is sincere by being sincere yourself—your honesty will eventually drive her away is she is insincere.
persuasive. Winners are resilient.

Q: How do I tell the guy I'm dating that weekends should be couple time and not “let's hang out with the gang” time?
A: Well, nothing is automatic. Everything must be communicated and negotiated. You want to speak persuasively by explaining to him what exactly you want to do with him on the weekends. He may find the ideas you have to be very interesting. Say what you do want from him, rather than what you don’t want. That's being instantly persuasive.

Q: I'm a 38-year-old man who's ready to get married and have a family. What's the right way to say this to the women I'm dating? I don't want to sound like I'm only interested in a woman as a potential mother to my children.
A: Well, you can't be 100 percent ready until you meet the woman who's going to be the mother of your children. Perhaps what you really mean is that you're at a point in your life where you're financially and emotionally secure. So talk about that. Talk about what you've learned in your life.

Q: How can I find out if someone is for real without asking too many questions first?
A: You don't have to ask questions, just pay attention—people reveal themselves on their own. If someone is consistently late, he shows you that he doesn't really care. If someone talks to you about all the other men that she is attracted to, it tells you she's in it for the game. Pay attention to the little moments and you will learn a lot—our words are always persuading people to like or dislike us, respect or disrespect us. We have the power to choose our words wisely to make sure that we are winning people over.

Laurie Puhn, J.D., is a Harvard-educated lawyer, mediator, and author of the best-selling Instant Persuasion: How to Change Your Words to Change Your Life. Laurie is also a member of the Happen magazine expert panel.
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