Making a connection in a 4 minute date

Want some insight into how you can be more effective in connecting with that attractive man or woman? There is a new study that could give you an edge in your dating life.

New research from Stanford University examines the elements of how people bond in courtship situations. Conversations between heterosexual couples in 4 minute speed dating encounters were analyzed in order to better understand what helps people to feel a connection with someone they have just met.

Scholars Dan McFarland and Dan Jurafsky recently published their study results in the American Journal of Sociology. Their paper, “Making the Connection: Social bonding in Courtship Situations” emphasized the uncertainty about the meaning of signals that people send to others and how that influences their ability to forge interpersonal connections. This key element is very different from all the traditional ways we believe people bond socially- through shared traits, experiences, values, and world view. Therefore, this research was looking at something that draws people together that is not about looks, type of career, interests, etc.

They analyzed nearly 1,000 “dates” and found that words did matter, especially in how they were delivered, and when and for how long they shared during the encounter. Shared stories helped the connection as did participants varying the loudness and pitch of their speech. These findings highlight the importance of the nonverbal communication that we all use but rarely think about. The analysis looked at these measures against the backdrop of how the individuals rated their connection during the date and 4 minutes were found to be long enough for folks to have a meaningful encounter.

Women felt more connection when men used more feeling language, (words that were sympathetic and appreciative). They also felt more connection to men who actively engaged in and contributed to the conversation. What was interesting is that both sexes felt more connection when the topic focused mostly on the women. However if a man asked too many questions or the woman had to ask a lot of questions to keep the conversation going, this negatively impacted her connection with him.

The overall finding was that communication can change someone’s feelings about another person. The next time you want to establish a connection with someone you have just met, remember to be engaged, show interest, ask questions but not too many, jump in with energy and only to comment in a positive way on something they have shared- and vary the loudness/softness of your voice, as it communicates energy and keep their attention. No folks, it’s not about looks and success- it’s how well you connect in your communication with one another.