Do you come here often? This is one of the most famous, and worst (though it has stiff competition from any references to whether I fell from heaven), pick up lines known to man. Worst of all it is easily recognizable as a pick up line. Aside from the fact it is a hopeless cliché, whenever a guy starts showing an amazing interest in how I’m feeling today/ where I was born/ my dead pets’ names, I kind of get the impression he is attempting to flirt with me. In fact inside my head I’m probably thinking ‘don’t you dare stare at my boobs’ shortly followed by ‘evacuate’.
That is because questions are often invasive, boring, and completely unnecessary.
I think this is an even worse phenomenon in England, where I live. Everyday I get asked how I am. I mean the pressure to say ‘I’m fine’ is huge to begin with - so that question usually is dead-ended. And if I say how I really feel (which sometimes I do) ‘to be honest I feel completely crap, please leave me alone’ it’s also kind of a route to conversation death.
Asking someone lots of questions may show your interest in them (a creepy amount) but it leads to unsatisfying conversations that neither person is going to be in a rush to repeat. Anyone who knows me will know I’m always keen to talk about myself, but even I’m starting to feel pretty jaded with ‘This is your life’ style interviews when I meet guys. And don’t think because you’ve shown a major amount of interest in me that I’m going to be so courteous as to ask anything about you. Why should I? You haven’t suggested to me that there is anything interesting about you yet.
So asking people a lot of questions as a means to introduce yourself is flawed; namely because it does an awful job of introducing ‘you’. However if you make a statement about yourself instead then you’ve at least allowed me to see you as more of a human being. You have ‘de-strangerfied’ yourself. It’s like in hostage situations. If your captor (the person you’re trying to kick start a conversation with) sees you as a ‘real person’, an individual, they are less likely to shoot you down right?
Statements are not only engaging, but they show confidence.
Firstly that you have confidence in yourself, that you are an interesting person, with interesting things to say. But also confidence to take a bit of a risk; statements don’t require responses like questions do. This means if the person chooses to respond to them it is more of a committed response. One that may well blossom into a full-blown conversation, before ‘evacuate’ even crosses my mind.
They also prevent you from coming across like you are forcing your opinion on someone else, and instead invite opinions to be shared ‘a conversation’. Compare:
1. ‘Don’t you really hate London?’
2. ‘I really hate London, sometimes.’
The question (that’s number 1. With the question mark at the end of it) comes across as kind of judgmental. I may feel obliged to agree with you, then ‘evacuate’. Or I may choose to argue against your statement, in which case you’ve managed to skip any pleasant conversation and you’re right into an argument, or a debate, or something else that neither of you is going to be in a rush to repeat.
However, the statement can work to incite the opinion of the other person without coming across as too confrontational. I may ask ‘oh really? How come?’ and I’m engaged with learning things about you. Or if I want to go about changing your opinion I may well do it in a more pleasant way - I even may share some anecdotes about myself. And hey presto you’re having a conversation. What’s more if I think you are really interesting, from the things I learn about you, I’ll be more inclined to carry on the conversation. I’ll also be way more inclined towards further conversations, and maybe even escalations of them - boob stares and all.