Chris sat at the little table in the bustling coffee shop, his palms sweating. He had the sensation that his brain was attempting to swim in the whirlpool of his own thoughts. It was a first date with a lovely woman named Sandra… at least the one and only photo on her dating profile gave the impression she was pretty and her texts were kind and cheerful. Chris lamented as he thought back over his own texts. They were by his estimation short, clumsy at least by comparison to her eloquent and descriptive replies. Of the torrent of racing thoughts the most distinctive were “What am I going to talk about?”, “What if she thinks I’m boring?” and “What if she thinks I sound like an idiot?”

It was the tinkle of the little chime at the door that broke Chris’s train of thought as he looked up and saw her step in accompanied by a refreshing gust of fresh air from outside. It seemed as though the world moved in slow-motion as he took in the details of her face. It was definitely her but the photo did not do her justice… there was a definitive air of elegance and her dignified features only served to accentuate that. Chris saw nothing of the coffee shop, only her and marveled that she was here for him and when the sheer euphoria abated enough for his sense of self to come back to him he realized that he was standing though he could not recall requesting his body to do so.

She all but glided over once she recognized him. Her smile radiant, her hazel eyes were keen and kind.It seemed as though someone pulled the stopper and the whirlpool of thoughts had drained out because now Chris couldn’t think of anything at all… Instead Chris feels like this.

Photo from: Addams Family Values – ©1993 Paramount Pictures

Let’s Take a Moment to Reflect

First things first… Chris may not be a fashion model but he’s not Quasimodo either.Chris’s big problem is he’s psyching himself out, a common problem at every stage of dating and worthy of it’s own article (or seven, and they are coming).Let’s deal with Chris’s more immediate concern of feeling inadequate and dull.As our scene here is paused let’s gently place three reminders in Chris’s head:

  • This is not a TED Talk, comedy set, or a trade show presentation… so it’s not all on him. This is the time to relax and be in the moment and go with the flow.
  • Many of us have a tendency to put all our hopes and dreams in to one basket. Suddenly our entire future and all potential for happiness relies on this one encounter going well. We must do anything and everything within our power to avoid the cataclysm of doom, fire and destruction! That’s us psyching ourselves out again; we do it with job interviews and dates and all kinds of events. Deep breath, take a mental step back. Coffee house, nice human sitting across from us… Now all we have to do is smile, say “Hello”, and make a friend. It really doesn’t need to be any more stressful than that.
  • Having been a very successful trainer there were two things that were critically important. The first is “Let them steer the bus”… for training to be helpful and relevant it has to go where the client needs it to. The second is W.A.I.T. (Why Am I Talking?). Listen to what the person you’re training needs, acknowledge and respond to their needs

Let’s Go Back to Chris

After a simple “Hello” and exchanges of “it’s so good to meet you”, Chris sits down, takes a deep breath and embraces the emptiness inside his head and with that the pressure releases. What was supposed to be a simple coffee turns into four hours of delightful sparkling conversation as Chris listens and learns about Sandra and her various travels despite, it turns out, having grown up less than a mile from each other but they didn’t go to the same schools. By the end Chris felt delighted… perhaps he’d leave the car parked and just float home. They would meet again next week and Chris was already looking forward to that time.

Wei Wu Wei (Do Without Effort)

For anyone familiar with Alan Watts or Taoist principles this is one of those weirdly effective things that flys in the face of conventional thought. The ability to relax, be completely authentic and listen shows that we are genuine and engaged in real meaningful exchange. This in turn makes us both interesting and attractive because there is a safe space in which everyone is Heard, Respected and Valued. Water will flow where the resistance is least and if we get out of our own way it will flow naturally. As for whether this person will be the right fit… for that you’ll need to follow the flow and see where it leads.