In the Hot Seat

Friday morning, co-founder Lizzie Williams woke up with butterflies in her stomach.  She was antsy all day.  She kept thinking about what she’d say to Chuck that evening.  She thought about what questions he might ask her and how she might answer them.  She wondered if the outfit she was wearing was right, even though she’d decided days ago that it was.  She took extra time with her hair and makeup.

She found herself having imaginary conversations with Chuck when she was supposed to be doing other things, like concentrating on the directions she needed to follow to get where she was going.  She’d promised to be there at 7 pm.  At 6:45, she was circling the block, not wanting to arrive too early.

Finally, they were saying hello, exchanging pleasantries and having a nice conversation.  The butterflies were gone.

It wasn’t a date–it was a live news interview, but the experience was ironically similar to a first date, or a second date that you really, really hope will turn into a third.  Lizzie wanted to present herself in the best possible light, without appearing to be trying to hard.  Mostly, she just wanted to be herself, with no nerves getting in the way.  And, because she remembered to breath, and smile, and listen, she pulled it off.

If you’ve ever gotten nervous about a date, here’s what you can learn from Lizzie’s experience:

  1. Butterflies are good.  They mean you care.  There are two things you can try to make them more bearable.  Diversionary tactics–keep yourself busy with any distractions you can think of.  Reorganize your closet if you  have to.  That’s number one.  Number two is psychological.  You have to remind yourself that eventually, the moment you’re waiting for will be upon you and sometime after that, the butterflies really will disappear.
  2. A little preparation will make you feel more confident and in control.  Lizzie sat down in the chair and knew that if there was an awkward silence, she could think of something to fill it–because she’d thought about it ahead of time.
  3. Listening is important.  Sure, Lizzie had been having imaginary conversations with Chuck all day long, but when it was show time, she let all of that go.  She listened to his questions and answered him easily and honestly.  You’d be surprised, or maybe you’ve experienced it enough not to be, how often people aren’t actively listening.  Their mind is only partially engaged in the conversation as completely unrelated thoughts (I wonder what that waiter puts in his hair) push their way forward.  People can tell when you’re really listening to them, and they like it.
  4. Genuine conversational compliments are another thing that make everyone feel good.  There’s a point in the middle of the interview when Lizzie says to Chuck, “That’s a very good question.”  It was a natural reaction, not a staged compliment, but it was a compliment nonetheless.  When you acknowledge a good question or an interesting point, you show that you’re engaged in the conversation and you keep the person you’re talking to engaged, as well.
  5. Lizzie kept reminding herself that it was just one interview.  There would be more.  If it didn’t go well, the world wouldn’t end.  It might feel like she wanted it to, for a few minutes, but the feeling would pass and life would go on.  Never put so much importance on a date that you feel like it absolutely has to work out.  At the risk of sounding like my mother, let me remind you that there will be other dates.

What about you?  Do you ever get nervous before a date?  How do you handle it?

p.s. got a makeover.  Hope you like our new and improved, easier-to-use website!


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Filed under Advice, Confidence, First Dates

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