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How to Make Great Conversation Through Email and on the Phone while Dating Online

One of the more difficult aspects of online dating is making connections with people you haven't yet met. It's often difficult to break the ice, but a few minutes of preparation before you call or email can make a big difference in the results.

Before you pick up the phone, try to assess where you are physically and emotionally. Are you in a place where you can focus on this conversation for a few minutes? It's a good idea not to try to multitask, as the conversation will take some concentration. Make sure you have five or ten minutes to devote only to the phone call. Another thing to determine is your state of mind. Are you still agitated from talking to your coworker before you left the office? Did your mother's nagging voicemail leave you irritated? It's always best to approach these phone calls from a positive perspective. There is no need to go overboard and sound annoyingly perky on the phone, but you'll get a better response if you approach the conversation with a positive attitude.

It's always good to have a purpose for a phone call, especially one in the beginning of a relationship. A purpose can be big or small. Ask about a date on Friday night or ask for a lasagna recipe. Calling to get to know someone you've just met online can be a purpose. Simply say, "I was hoping now would be a good time to take a few minutes to get to know each other." If the answer is yes, you can get started.

It's important to have some questions planned in advance of the phone call. You don't need to make extensive notes to read from during the call, but it's important to be able to move confidently through four or five questions without floundering and enduring the awkward silence that can often happen when you're trying to get to know someone. Be sure to ask open-ended questions requiring more than a yes or no answer.

It's a good idea, in conversation, to rephrase part of what you heard in the answer to your question as a way to build up to another question. "So you had a good day because your boss gave you some positive feedback about the way your project is going." Then build on that. "That must make you feel good. What's the project?" This makes the person you're talking to aware that you're listening and makes him feel appreciated. You can use rephrasing or restating as a way to move the conversation into talking about yourself a bit as well. Remember, this is a time to speak in general terms about yourself and to keep it light and interesting.

Part of being a good conversationalist is to have a sense of when to end a conversation. It's always a good idea to wrap up the conversation before you run out of things to talk about. And keep the wrap up simple. "You know, it's been great having the chance to talk to you. Thanks for the lasagna recipe. I look forward to talking to you again." That leaves room in the conversation for the other person to comment or for you to simply say goodbye.

Use similar guidelines when emailing someone during the early stages of a relationship. Have a purpose to the email and ask some open ended questions that leave room for a response from the other person. Paraphrase their comments in your response and ask another question, to keep the conversation moving forward. "It was interesting to me that you mentioned your interest in sailing. I grew up sailing during my summers at camp. How did you develop your interest in sailing?"

As always, when emailing or sending information via the Internet, it's important to remember that others can see what you say. Only say things that you would want to be viewed publicly. That might not happen, but it's better to be safe than sorry.