We want to be romantic. We want to be attentive to our dates. We want to have fun.
But what if we can’t hear enough to follow the conversation? What if it’s a first date and I don’t have a history to rely on? The worry alone can spoil the outing.
Valentine’s Day is supposed to be special, but it turns out to be a bunch of added pressure. Because it’s a holiday the nice restaurants are more crowded. Dates have high expectations for romance. People are talking, music is playing and dishes are clanging. The happier people are, the more noise they make. Trying to follow a conversation in the middle of that noise is exhausting—and fruitless. In a crowd, you just can’t hear all that’s being said.
If you’ve read my eBook “How To Hear Better At Dinner” (you can download it for free here), you’ll know I’ve covered how planning can help you to have better success with a dinner out with friends. Now is a good time to revisit this report and apply its concepts to your Valentine’s Day.
I recommend you read the full report, but here are three tips that you can put into action now:
Picking your own home as the place to host your date is a good choice, as it gives you more control. You can easily decide that no background music will be played during dinner, for example. You can make your own romance with conversation and quiet candlelight.
If you’ve decided to meet at a restaurant ask if you can pick the restaurant. Keep a list of your favorite restaurants where you’re able to hear well.
If your date has already booked a table, try to scout out the venue a few days before your dinner, if you can. Know the layout—where the loudspeakers and kitchen are.
If that’s impossible, arrive to the restaurant very early. Figure out what bits of the environment you can control to improve the acoustics of your dining experience. You want to be able to talk comfortably and hear what’s being said.
Choosing your table is very important because sound within the dining area may not be equally distributed. You’re looking for the place where you’re most likely to hear your date and enjoy your evening. As you walk in, scan the venue and make sure that your table meets the following criteria:
It’s away from any loudspeaker
If background music is being played, make sure your table is far way from any loudspeaker.
It’s far away from the kitchen
Kitchen noise has the bad habit of masking speech!
It’s away from loud tables
Check that your neighboring tables aren’t—or don’t have the potential to become—too loud, or you’ll hear them more than your own voice. Watch out for large groups talking animatedly.
Remember, you are paying for this Valentine’s Dinner, and you and the restaurant both want you to have a good experience. Go ahead and ask for help getting a quiet table where you can face your date.
If you can figure out what your date is talking about quickly, you will save precious energy you can spend enjoying the conversation for a longer time with less stress.
All you need to do is some research. It takes little time, and it can be fun. You will likely learn something new and have more topics to talk about.
Three things to research:
Scan the headlines
What’s new with the world? Reading the headlines of your favorite newspaper will help you anticipate some news talk
Research your date
If you can, find out what your date does for a living ahead of time. If you’re not sure what their job title means, look these things up on Google so you’re not completely unprepared and have to guess context all along. What does your date do for fun? For a special adventure? Does your date belong to a professional or social group? Does your date have a pet?
What’s the latest news with your mutual friends?
Knowing what everybody has been up to will give you a chance to quickly tune in into a conversation, even if you miss some.
If your date doesn’t know you have hearing loss, or you not sure how to talk about it, prepare a script ahead of time. Check out “How To Tell Others About Your Hearing Loss” to help you, or “When should you tell your date you have hearing loss?“
You may try some of these techniques above and still miss words. Conversation will be difficult to follow sometimes. The worst thing you can do is stress out when you can’t hear everything.
The goal isn’t to hear everything. The goal is to make a meaningful connection with someone. If you ever feel down because you can’t follow what your date is saying, ask them to move closer to you or to go to a different venue. Or start a conversation with the person sitting next to you.
When you’re struggling, don’t just nod and smile, pretending everything is great. You’ll feel bad, and you’ll lose out.
When you take action, you may not always succeed, but you may improve your situation. Progress. And that will make you feel better because it will chase that feeling of hopelessness away.
Treat yourself this Valentine’s Day and take action. You will hear better and feel better.