C hani

I knew all along that Debbie doesn’t really need a quiet boy. She just needed to learn to express herself.


Dating — and life — are so much more interesting this way!


When I asked Debbie for feedback after the date, she gave me a specific and coherent answer. I knew this was a good idea!

There’s a spring in Debbie’s step. “He said yes to a second date!” she tells me.

“That’s great!”

Debbie twists her bangle around her wrist. “I’m so nervous!”

“Tell me about the date. What topics did you discuss?”

“I don’t know, the usual. Yeshivah, Israel…”

“You don’t sound very enthusiastic.”

She looks a little embarrassed. “I guess I don’t care so much about yeshivah dorm life.”

“Last session we discussed learning others’ interests. How would you rate dorm life for him? How much do you think he cares?”

She laughs. “Oh, I could tell he cares. It’s his whole life these days, after all. I did the active listening things, eye-contact and hm-hming and asking questions. I guess…” she trails off. “I guess it was standard first-date stuff. But am I going to have to do this every date? And then for the rest of my life?”

I point to the ocean painting again. “Let’s practice diving beneath the surface.”

Initial getting-to-know-you conversation contains a lot of facts. I explain to Debbie that to get deeper, she needs to ask questions. “But not dead-end questions,” I clarify. “No yes-or-no, one-word answers. You want to ask open-ended questions that will get the other person to share their thoughts, feelings, and opinions.”

I steer us away from dating per se. “When you ask a kid about his favorite part of school, what does he say?”

“Recess,” she says promptly.

“Right. Dead-end question. One-word answer. But what if you asked why he likes recess? That would give you a longer answer, which would also give you insight into his personality.”

We do some more role playing. Debbie plays herself and I play the boy she’s dating:

“How was your day?” Debbie asks.


Debbie tries again, picking a topic she knows he cares about. “Do you miss Israel?”

“Yeah, I miss it like crazy,” I reply in my best imitation of a yeshivah bochur.

“What do you miss the most about it?”

“I miss my friends. There are guys here who I’m friends with from high school, but my friends from Israel are mostly still in Israel.”

“Why do you think you feel closer to your friends from Israel than your friends from high school?”

Debbie also needs to practice sharing.

“Did you like seminary in Israel?”


“What was your favorite part?”

Debbie struggles to provide more than a surface-level answer. “I enjoyed seeing new kinds of places and different lifestyles. Israel is not really just ‘America in transliterated English.’ There’s so much history and culture there. I felt like I got a much broader perspective of life and the world.”

I’m impressed with Debbie; no matter how this shidduch ends, she’s diving down deeper and coming up with pearls.

Bring It Home

Follow these steps for productive conversation and relationship-building between you and your children, your spouse, coworkers, peers, or anyone you meet:

Pay attention to the interests of the people around you. Keep a mental log of the things that make them passionate and excited. If your conversation partner is someone you just met, try to guess what might interest her by looking for clues in how she acts, how she dresses, or whatever information you do have about her.

Once you’ve identified the interests of your conversational partner, broach those topics. Use active listening to show your interest in her interests by giving verbal feedback, using body language, and reflecting.

To deepen your conversation and relationship, avoid questions that invite one-word, yes-or-no answers. Ask open-ended questions that solicit your partner’s opinions, thoughts, and feelings. Use phrases like “Tell me more” and “What do you think?” to gain insights beneath the surface.

Sharing is as important as listening. Avoid one-word answers and offer more information on your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences.

D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist in private practice for over 15 years. She is the creator of the Link-It reading comprehension and writing curriculum for elementary school students and directs continuing education programs for speech-language pathologists and educators.(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 558 )