When two people talk, the conversational ratio is the ratio of the talk-time taken up by them in the conversation. In an ideal dating scenario, the ratio should be 50:50, given that in an ideal situation both parties will be equally involved and bring equal amounts to the table.
But an ideal situation is just that. Ideal.
We all know that things never turn out that way in real life. Ever!
While talking, one person generally takes on the role of controlling the conversation. It is not necessarily true that he or she is the one who speaks more too.
Imagine a conversation during a date where you talk for about 80% of the time. Because you are desperate to qualify, you put your heart on your sleeve as you feel this is the best way of selling yourself. You talk about your job, your hobbies, what you did last night, how you reached your drunk friend home, which movie you saw last and how you liked it… What can the lady do with this barrage of information other than to let it go on, try to look interested and nod once in a while? She will just fill the 20% of the time you have allowed her with polite closed one-liners and share little information about herself.
When you head home you will realize you have dominated the conversation. Instead of controlling it. You won’t feel good about it then, right?
So how do you go about correcting yourself and be ready for the next date? Here are a few tips.
Hone your listening skills. Think of yourself as a reporter. Reporters follow a rule of not interrupting their interviewee to add their own opinions. The person they are speaking to is the subject specialist and has to be given her due hearing. Treat your date like that.
Control the conversation. Give her 80% of the talk-time while you take 20% to steer the conversation. A relevant insight is that people love to talk about themselves. It is their favorite topic. So, ask her open-ended questions like “What interesting things happened at your work of late”, “Which country would you like to visit and why”, “If you were to start a Company, what would it be about” etc.
When you understand what keeps a conversation going, you can then actually switch the 80:20 ratios. You can allow yourself 80% talk-time if you find that she is actually loving to hear what you are saying. For that you need to study her body language. Like, for example, a person who is constantly leaning forward and laughing, is enjoying what she is hearing, and is one of the keys to a healthy conversation index.
To work towards the reversed 80-20 scenario, where you are spending 80% of the time sharing interesting and funny stories (not your resume or sad stories) and she is spending her 20% laughing and asking for more, you need to work on your story-telling skills. I’m sure we all have a good story or series of stories to share from our pasts. Keep them in your head as ‘canned’ stories… stories that you are familiar with, have rehearsed telling, and which people have enjoyed hearing!
To sum up, conversational ratio is actually an awareness tool that you should use to remind yourself to calibrate the conversation. To remind you to give her enough talk-time, and to stop yourself from taking up too much of it.