Friday, June 20, 2008

If you’re not sure whether you’re interested

When you’re not sure that you want the person to call, you can always say you’re about to change your number because you’ve received too many hang-ups; the number used to belong to an escort service; or you want a cuter number.
If you decide that you want to give out your number and then, upon reflection, decide that it was a mistake, you can get an answering machine or a call block machine so that you can screen your calls. If it turns out that the person is more persistent than you’d like, you can change your number. Another alternative if you’re not sure whether you want to give out your phone number is to get the person’s number instead. Of course, doing so means you have to call the person.
Don’t ask for a phone number as a defensive measure, as in, “I don’t want you to have my number, but if I ask for yours, you’ll be less intense about getting mine.” Then you’re just being creepy.

If you’d like to see the person again

If you’re interested and want to stay in touch, give out your number, but also get the other person’s number. If you only give your number and don’t get a ing for a call. So make a deal. Say, “I’d love for you to have my number, and I’d love to have yours as well.” Exchanging numbers has the following benefits:
  • You can give the other person a jingle if he/she doesn’t call on your timetable.
  • You don’t have to be passive or nasty, just a co-equal. No more waiting around for a call, and no more fuming because you never heard from Prince or Princess Charming again.
  • If the person turns out to be a bozo, you have something to fantasize about pasting on bathroom walls — “For a good time, call. . . .” (But don’t do it! Paybacks can be really harsh.)

Giving Your Phone Number

You’ve been enjoying the conversation (or not), have been flattered by the attention (or not), and now you’re in the spotlight: Your phone number has been requested or his/her phone number has been offered. Now, whether you’re wildly euphoric or praying that the floor will open and swallow you whole, you have to respond.
If someone wants to contact you, you may be tempted to give your phone number for these reasons:
  • You want him or her to get in touch.
  • You’re not sure that you’re interested, but you want to keep your options open.
  • You wouldn’t spit on him if he were on fire, but you don’t want to appear rude.
The following sections help you maneuver gracefully through these scenarios.

When not to “cell”?

Somehow cell phones have allowed folks to forget basic manners and common sense. If the following list of times not to use cell phones doesn’t seem absurdly obvious and straightforward to you, you need a basic attitude adjustment. If the list seems like silly fun and you suspect that my tongue is parked firmly in my cheek — bingo!
_ At a wedding
_ At a funeral
_ At the altar
_ On a date
_ During sex
_ In the shower
_ When comforting someone who is crying
_ When celebrating birthdays or anniversaries
_ When breaking up
_ When making up

You’re not interested in the other person, but you feel it’s expected of you to ask for a number

If you’re not interested, don’t ask for the number. If you ask for a number, the assumption is that you intend to use it. Don’t spread misery like peanut butter. If you have absolutely no interest in the other person and have no intention of calling, just don’t ask.
Men especially feel that not asking for a phone number is really rude, but if you can just confine yourself to “See you around” or “Nice seeing you again,” you’ll spare yourself and the other person some wear and tear.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Advice from the animal kingdom

Yes, even at our most well-behaved, we’re still animals — human animals, but animals nonetheless. As a result, the same rules that apply to the larger animal kingdom sometimes apply to us. Lionel Tiger, an anthropology professor who has done a lot of work on animal behavior, reports that, to show that their intentions are honorable, animals bare their necks, the most vulnerable part of any animal’s body. Where do you think we got the phrase “Go for the jugular (vein)”? And you thought it came from a Dracula movie. Therefore, the best way to show how honorable your intentions are is to bare your neck metaphorically:
In other words, to get a phone number, offer your own.

You want to keep your options open

In a perfect world, you could actually say, “I’m not sure I want to call you, but, what the heck, give me your number just in case.” Of course, a line like that isn’t exactly flattering. You’re probably better served by expressing an interest but giving yourself an out by saying something like this:

“Look, I’d really love to call you, but I’m . . . (pick one)

really busy at work
traveling a lot
getting out of a relationship
covered with herpes
feeling poorly (not poor, which means you’re in the midst of pecuniary strangulation)
scheduled for surgery
about to be drafted
so.” (Of course, if you use the herpes line, don’t expect them to be too enthusiastic.)

When you take this approach, you’re not misleading anyone or setting the other person up to hang by the phone waiting for you to call. You’re simply keeping your options open without doing so at someone else’s expense. If you’re feeling really ambivalent about asking for a phone number, you can always offer yours, saying, “Why not take my number?” Then if the other person calls, you can go out on his or her nickel and enthusiasm. After all, all of us like to be courted.

You want to get in touch with the person

When you know you want to call someone, obviously you need to ask for the phone number. One of the best ways to approach getting someone else’s number is to demonstrate your good faith and to show that you’re not Jack or Jacqueline the Ripper:
  • Smile, talk softly, and make eye contact.
  • Ask for the number in a friendly, nonthreatening way. For example, instead of saying, “So, can I have your number?” try something like, “I’d really like to stay in touch. Is there a number where I can reach you?” Giving out your phone number if you want to is certainly okay, but doing so puts you in the position of waiting for his call. The best way to offset this position of passivity is to ask for his number as well. Or you can take his and not give yours. (Of course, if you have no intention of calling him, don’t ask for the number. It’s just as nasty for you to ask for his number and not call as it is for him to ask for your number and then not call you.)
  • Offer your own number. Offering your number is a great way to deflect suspicion by putting the proverbial ball in the other person’s court. Offering rather than asking also allows you to be vulnerable first. You can win sensitivity points by saying, “Look, I know these days, a gorgeous woman like you has to be careful, so if you would prefer, I can give you a way to get in touch with me. I’d love to court you the old-fashioned way and call you, but I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable by asking you to give me your number if you’re not ready.”

Why Ask for a Phone Number?

Whether you were introduced by friends, ran into one another on the street, or met at a party, unless you believe that the two of you share a karma that will cause you to run into one another again and again, you’re either going to have to depend on blind fate or you’re going to have to get a number: a home phone number or a cell number (a great option because it allows you to give out a number without having to transpose one of the last digits for someone you don’t really want to give your phone number to.) If you really don’t want to give a phone number, don’t do it. Give a street address, an e-mail address, a business card, or something. (I know there’s always the mutual friend route, but you’re not in 7th grade any more — I hope. Plus, if you contact the other person directly, you get a lot more — and more reliable — information.) There are only a limited number of reasons why you might ask for a phone number:
  • You want to call the person.
  • You’re not sure whether you want to call the person but want the number just in case.
  • You know you don’t want to call, but you don’t want to appear rude.

Asking for Phone Number

We live in a society that is both more open and more frightened than any that has ever existed before. In the United States, the idea of the chaperone has become a quaint part of our history. What we’ve forgotten is that a chaperone served a very distinct purpose: A chaperone allowed two people to get together, while keeping an eye on things. Sure, you couldn’t hold hands, or kiss, or — heaven forbid — do anything more intimate without being tsk-tsked to kingdom come, but it also meant that you didn’t have to worry about improper or uncomfortable advances or fret that your date would interpret your intentions as less than honorable. Having a chaperone along on a date may have felt restrictive, but it also meant safety. Today that restriction — and that safety — are gone. Now you’re faced with the same urge to merge but with few guidelines and no one, other than yourself, for protection.

If the two of you are ever going to have a date, you have to be able to connect. Of course, you could agree to meet on a specific street corner or at a party or restaurant or after a class. But sooner or later, it will occur to one of you that being able to get in touch if plans should change would be nice — and that means a more personal way to connect, and that means a phone number. Getting a phone number means that the two of you have moved from being strangers to at least being acquaintances, and that can be a very large and somewhat scary first step. To compound the problem, men and women have different senses of times and different sensibilities. Men often feel they have to ask for a number even when they have no interest, and women often feel they have to give out a number even if they have no interest. To help you, this chapter covers how to both get and give a phone number — with the minimum wear and tear on both of you. It also covers what to say during the call, and if you’re hesitant to hand out your home phone number, you can also find phone number alternatives.

How to get some feedback?

If you get a no, you may want to take a minute to try to figure out why. Make sure you haven’t gotten into some bad habits. You may need to ask yourself some tough questions. Are you too eager, too desperate, too whiny, too silly, or too tense? Is your breath okay? Do you make eye contact? No matter how honest you think you are, give yourself some balance by asking a willing friend to critique your approach (you’ve seen it in a million movies where the hero or heroine practices in front of a mirror — no, not Travis Bickle’s “You lookin’ at me?” line). Balance your friend’s feedback with your own opinion so that you’re not being too easy or too harsh on yourself. If you mess up your careful scenario, your friend can give you some tips and hints on improving it, and you can make sense of what you meant to say or do. Practicing can help you get a grip on your nerves. A little nervousness is flattering to the potential date because it shows that you really want to get to know him or her. Too much nervousness can panic both of you. All things considered, it’s probably even better to be a little bit nervous than so nonchalant and cool that your potential date has the sense you couldn’t care less if he or she accepts your invitation or not, because if he or she isn’t interested, no biggie, it’s not them, you’ll just move on to someone else. It’s not a terrible idea to start a first date on an honest basis. I know — don’t tell anybody I told you, and we’ll try to keep it our dirty little secret.