Talking a Date into a Business Meeting

by Emily Jasper on May 31, 2011

Thanks to Netflix, I have on-demand access to a lot of shows I love. Currently, I’m on a Numb3rs bent. One of the early episodes has the character Charlie finally go out on date with his long-term crush Amita. Since he was her former advisor, and she’s still at the university, they both agree they will not talk about work.

And then they find they have nothing to talk about.

Poor Charlie thinks he blew the whole thing because they lacked conversation skills for topics outside of mathematical theory and application. His father, the wise man he is, points out that Charlie made a big assumption that may have predetermined the night’s failure: that it’s wrong to talk about your passion (even if it is work) on a date, especially when that’s the spark bringing you together.

Of course! We all would love to date people who “get” blogging or startups, business or wine, or whatever it is that we love and hope to do with our lives. My first reaction was that if you can’t talk about your work or passion on a date, and that you have to restrict the conversation, that doesn’t bode well for the future. That means no “How was your day?” conversations or discussing times when you might need an outsider’s perspective on a challenging problem. That doesn’t work long term.

Then this morning, as I was contemplating this post, I also remembered that it’s tough to be on a date when it suddenly feels like a business meeting. People in the startup world may know exactly what I’m talking about. Your interests about venture capital or the newest app business can lead you from that spark that may have brought you together into drawing up business plans. Kind of like the Friend Zone, it’s hard to get back into the Dating Zone once you’ve crossed the business line.

So when is it too much?

Honestly, I don’t know. If it’s too awkward to talk about anything else, maybe you’ve restricted the conversation too much. Perhaps you can take your overall interest and apply it in new ways (Charlie tried using numerical patterns occurring in nature with his broccoli). If it’s starting to feel like a business meeting, then maybe back down and bring up something out of left field.

If you realize the date isn’t going so well, then maybe it is perfectly fine to talk about business or work just to get through the evening. Admit you may not end up walking down the aisle with this person, but that you still enjoy professional interests. At least you aren’t bombing the evening by talking about nothing at all.

These are just my ideas, but I’d like to hear from you. What other tips would you have for making sure you keep conversation lively, but the date doesn’t backfire on you?

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