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5 key questions to ask on a date December 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 7:14 pm
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1. What’s your favorite scene from your favorite book or movie?
Talking about mass media and pop culture can clue you in to similar interests and worldviews. “Books, movies, and music all transmit powerful messages of hope or emotion,” says Hogan. “If you have radically different preferences, there may be some fundamental differences between the way the two of you look at the world.” But asking your date to name his or her favorite scene can help you distill what’s important to him or her beyond just genre.

2. What do you love about your job?
The standard, “What do you do?” is a closed question that doesn’t reveal much about a person other than a job title. But if you phrase the career question a bit differently, you can delve into your date’s likes and dislikes; reveal his or her strengths; see how he or she handles conflict; and find out how happy this person is with life overall. Think about the different impressions you’ll form if your date answers the question, “Knowing that I’m helping people fulfill their dream” versus “Deciding what to order for lunch!”

3. What’s your definition of a relationship?
Granted, it takes a bit of build-up to ask this question (usually, once you begin discussing your dating histories, you can slip this one in), but it’s worth asking. Does your date want to be wined and dined, or are you both looking for a 50/50 relationship? It’s too soon to know what this specific potential relationship will look like, but a question like this lets you share your expectations and fundamental beliefs. “I like to ask this question early on, because I’ve found that some women I’ve dated didn’t know what they wanted out of our relationship,” says Mario Webb of Ft. Walton Beach, FL. “They came into it just hoping things work out without telling me what they expect. Needless to say, things haven’t worked out.” And if your date’s answer is outside the range of what you consider acceptable, you’ve saved yourself future heartbreak by finding out before you fall for him or her.

4. If money were no object, what would you do with your life?
This tried-and-true icebreaker showcases your date’s hopes, dreams, and regrets — topics that often remain untouched by even serious romantic partners. The answers can range from a desire to travel to going back to school to learning how to play the violin. Two buttoned-up stockbrokers might discover they both share a secret longing to be athletes or a shared devotion to public service. Your date’s response will help clue you in to common goals and interests that go beyond what you do on a day-to-day basis.

5. Will you share an embarrassing moment with me?
This fun question is great to ask when a date has gotten a little tense or quiet, because it reveals both details of your date’s history and his or her character. Just know that you may have to share an awkward experience first in order to make your date feel comfortable. “One of the great things is that our humanity is a bonding thing,” says Hogan. “Our ability to laugh at ourselves is critical in a budding relationship.” So make it clear that you’re not looking for dirt on that plagiarism incident in 11th grade, but rather something goofy, like the time you drove a golf cart into the water, installed a chandelier upside-down and so forth.

By asking these questions and considering the answers, you’ll gain valuable insights onto your date — and know whether the two of you are likely to click on future get-togethers.

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Picking a Present for the Boss

Filed under: Uncategorized — ktetaichinh @ 5:08 pm
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By CHERYL LU-LIEN TAN

The holidays aren’t just a time for giving presents to family members and loved ones. Young Yun, director of the Platinum Card Concierge Service for American Express, believes in showing appreciation to business associates and bosses, too. “Recognition is a really important part of professional relations—more so now since we’re all being asked to do more with less,” she says.

During the holiday season, Ms. Yun orders about a dozen gifts for her business associates—and helps American Express clients select and order thousands of their gifts as well.

Mimi Ritzen Crawford for The Wall Street JournalAmerican Express’s Young Yun, here at Godiva, often gives food to business associates she knows less well.

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It’s important to choose a present that is neither too generic nor too personal. The first will disappear into the mound of gifts that show up at this time of year, and the latter could make the recipient uncomfortable.

“To show that there was extra thought put into it,” Ms. Yun tries to reflect the recipient’s interests as much as possible. She keeps gift-giving in mind throughout the year, filing away tidbits she hears in conversations. If someone mentions liking wine, for example, she may get him a leather-bound wine journal embossed with his initials; if a person mentions liking a certain spa, she may arrange for a gift certificate there. “People have a lot of information at their disposal,” she says, noting that she pays close attention to casual chats before meetings start so that she can pick up on people’s likes and dislikes.

After hearing one of her bosses, an avid cook, mention that she liked the sauces at a particular restaurant, Ms. Yun arranged for a gift basket from the restaurant that featured some of its sauces—as well as a sauce recipe from the chef. “She was surprised that I remembered that she liked the restaurant,” she says.

If you haven’t been filing away tidbits during the year, Ms. Yun suggests doing a little sleuthing via Google or social-network sites like Facebook to get a general idea of the person’s hobbies or preferences. Associates who like to travel have received set of chic Luxe guides to various cities. Someone with a sweet tooth received sets of Vosges chocolates that featured bacon and other unusual ingredients, which she said was “less typical” than a box of chocolates.

Ms. Yun cautions gift-buyers not to get too personal, however. People generally should not buy “clothing, jewelry or anything overly extravagant” for business associates, she says. “If you don’t know them too well, you don’t want to cross personal boundaries,” she says.

If she doesn’t have much information about a gift recipient, she generally turns to food, since “most people like to eat.” One plus: “It allows the recipient to share it with their team, so it’s not just one person getting a gift.”

Ms. Yun avoids anything that looks pre-packaged, instead placing orders with atypical purveyors such as a local bakery that’s famous for cupcakes or another baked good. “Flowers are OK” but not her first choice, she says, as the recipient can’t share those with his or her colleagues as easily.

Gifts to business associates should always go to the recipients’ workplaces, even if you have the people’s home addresses. The gifts should arrive no later than Dec. 15, as “many people take time off at the end of the year.”

One last thing Ms. Yun does before her gifts go out: “I write down what I’ve given to everyone,” she says. When you go to a lot of trouble to come up with a thoughtful gift, she says, “you don’t want to repeat that gift down the road.”