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A major new study by the University of Texas shows women and men click when they talk in similar styles. So if you want to get lucky tonight, choose your words carefully…
Accommodate her desires
SHE SAYS: “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
YOU SAY: “It’s lovely to meet you, too. Can I get you a drink?”
WHY? If she greets you formally (as above), you’ll need to speak in a more formal register too, regardless of how you normally converse. You’re applying what linguists call “accommodation theory”. Dr Erez Levon, a linguist, says, “This grows from the sociological principle of ‘similarity attraction’. If you seem more similar to people you like, they will like you back.” In terms of first impressions, you’re talking a good game, and are more likely to score.
Ride her wavelength
SHE SAYS: “My favourite thing to do when I am travelling is to watch the sunrise on the beach.”
YOU SAY: “That sounds like an ideal image to picture when work’s getting you down.”
WHY? Reflect “visual” words – like “image” and “picture” back at her to show you’re on the same “representational wavelength”. “Everyone fits into one representational system: either visual, auditory or kinaesthetic,” says neuro-linguistics trainer Rober Steinhouse. “We’re attracted to people with the same preference. If she’s auditory, she’d use predicates like ‘hear’ and ‘listen’; if she’s kinaesthetic they’d be ‘hot’ and ‘feel’”.
Read between the lines
SHE SAYS: “I tried this amazing red wine – I can’t remember what it was called – in Italy last year.”
YOU SAY: “Whereabouts in Italy did you go?”
WHY? What she really wants to talk about is her trip to Italy – so ask her. “One of the biggest causes of miscommunication is the divergence between ‘literal’ and ‘inferential’ communication,” says behaviourist Emma James. “Men tend to be literal communicators. Women are more inferential. In this example, she wants to show off that she’s travelled, so push the conversation in that direction. She doesn’t actually want you to help her remember the name of the wine.” Although ordering a bottle wouldn’t do any harm.
SHE SAYS: “He said he’d bring the menu over in a few minutes.”
YOU SAY: “Great, looks like he’s on top of things: we’re in safe hands.”
WHY? When couples use the same function words, particular personal pronouns and prepositions (he, he’d, in, on), they’re more likely to be compatible,” says psychologist Dr James Pennebaker. They key is in a part of the brain, call Broca’s area, where mirror neurons (cells that enable us to mirror emotions) are densest. This area also processes function words. Get in tune with her Broca’s area and you’re more likely to get tuned into her other ‘areas’…
Share her speech
SHE SAYS: “I really love that new Arctic Monkeys album…”
YOU SAY: “Yeah, their lyrics are really clever, aren’t they?”
WHY? “Support each other’s terms and finish each sentences: it’s been shown that groups of females are more co-operative in speech, and men should aspire to this,” says linguistics specialist Dr Sylvia Shaw, “it signifies cooperation.” See jezebel.com for an introduction to pop culture, politics and books that should be on her radar.
Double your odds
SHE SAYS: “What are you doing this weekend, then?”
YOU SAY: “Well, it depends – would you rather go for sushi or see a new band?”
WHY? “You’re applying a ‘double blind’,” says James. “It’s psychologically giving her the illusion of choice, but both results benefit you. It can be very effective, but bear in mind this is one for the end of the date, as it’ll either cut it dead or open things up. For something subtler, try: ‘If I choose a restaurant, will you decide what we do afterwards?’ That’s a ‘conditional close’ – a form of negotiation to gain agreement.” It’s a win-win for you.