Define Personality Traits on the First Date

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Suzanne Pedro, CPC

When meeting someone new, defining personality traits on the first date can help you save a lot of time and energy. One of the most popular first date activities is meeting for dinner and consequentially, is one of the best ways to notice personality traits that can tell you if the person is right for you, according to Suzanne Zazulak Pedro, CPC.

Interview with Suzanne Zazulak Pedro, CPC

Suzanne Pedro, CPC is the founder and owner of The Protocol Praxis, LLS and is the co-author of the book, Executive Etiquette Power. She is a certified coach, consultant and uses her psychology education to help children and adults with etiquette practices.

Define Personality Traits on the First Date

LTK: Why is the way someone dines reflective of how he or she may be outside of the dining experience?

Suzanne Pedro: An individual's behavior and manners are firmly rooted in verbal and non-verbal communication. Therefore, table manners communicate an individual's personality traits.

However, different dining formats either can elicit true character or can cache a person's true nature. For instance, formal dining has a ceremonious character that conveys certain auras, obligations and dignities; frequently at a formal event, a couple may take on a superficial patina of good breeding.

People tend to put "on the airs" at a formal dining event, unfortunately, for their partner they find out later, that the manners were a pretense to disguise his/her true peccadilloes. Therefore, I find that a less formal dining atmosphere is a good barometer of one's true personality, because, people tend to drop their defenses in a casual venue as compared to a formal party where it is all about putting your best foot forward.

LTK: One a first date, what are some things that someone can look for that bring up red flags about a date's personality?

SP: Regardless if you meet someone for the first time or if you have been in a relationship, you need to open your eyes and ears fully or you will continue to succumb to the same disastrous relationship pitfalls.

Red flags to look for include:

  • Crossed arms

Crossing your arms comes across as a potential shield to prevent others from coming close. It states that you are not open for communication or advancement.

  • Feet or Hips pointing in a direction away from you

It shows a disinterest and the interest of the party to make a move away from you.

  • Resting chin in hand

This makes it look like the person can hardly stay awake or is bored.

  • Tapping of foot or objects

This indicates frustration, boredom or ignoring.

  • No direct eye contact

This is a huge flag! If someone cannot look you in the eye, he or she is very uncomfortable with you.

  • Hands over mouth

This indicates the person is covering something up or being deceitful.

  • Propped back in a chair

This shows signs of arrogance and conveys the message, stay your distance or I couldn't care less what you think.

  • Display of your palms down

This dominant feature suggests control.

  • Placement of objects or body parts in front of the person

For instance, placement of a purse or briefcase on the table indicates a subliminal message to separate each person.

  • Weed out the fake smile

To know if someone is giving you a genuine smile, look for the corners of the lips to turn up, the eyes shape into half-moons, and you will always see those telltale signs of the crinkle of the crows-feet at the corners of the eyes.

LTK: Are there any times that someone could be different from what he or she seems to be to his or her date?

SP: Unless you are an actor or have sociopathic proclivities, it is nearly impossible for someone to have total control of both your verbal and non-verbal communication skills.

Your primitive biological design of fight or flight allows your subconscious to make split-second decisions. You become aware of someone's phoniness but may not be intellectually ready to admit this is the wrong person for you. When you have certain thoughts in your mind, but an empty pit feeling in your stomach, you experience dissonance. It is an early inner warning that something is not right and to be aware.

For example, you and your date have a wonderful intimate meal. He was charming to everybody, but especially you. He sang songs of praise for you. He seems so gentle and wonderful. Then both of you walk to the valet for his car and he notices that he does not have his claim ticket, and tells you sweetly not to worry. However, the minute he sees the young high school valet, he admonishes him with a fist to cuffs that is not appropriate to retell. His arrogance and anger should be a red flag that no matter what he portrayed himself as in the restaurant, his real personality emerged when he was not in control. This is your chance to get out now graciously. DO NOT be a "See No Evil," "Hear No Evil" or "Speak No Evil" and give excuses. Seeing someone in action when he or she is taken off guard is the best way to judge the true character of an individual - not when the house lights are on, and the tape is rolling.

LTK: Are there any personality traits you can discover unique to certain other types of dates?

SP: Whether you are on the golf course, movie house or a pool hall, always remember a leopard does not change his spots. He may redistribute or redesign them, but can never eliminate them. What I am saying is that the venue doesn't make or break a person's character. Situations and venues may bring out a different side, but that side was already in that person for it to appear. To listen to any whimpers of such, is to have the wool pulled over your eyes.

First Date Conversation

LTK: What should someone keep in mind when conversing with his or her date?

SP To develop rapport and communication skills, learn to listen. You can find out about a person's modality by his or her selection of words. There are three ways in which people learn and communicate: seeing, hearing and kinesthetic. People will invariably use select words, such as for visual people, they will say something like, "I see", or "I see what you are saying". They use visual cues and words. For hearing, they may say, "I hear you", "I hear you loud and clearly". For touchy people, you will hear, "I feel your pain".

Using these key words will put you one-step forward to building rapport. You can use this with mirroring techniques. Match their speech pattern, tone and speed with their breathing and body movements. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and you can always tell if someone is in rapport with you. For example, if you switch positions say with your arm or leg, and the other party follows this is a good sign that the two are you are in simpatico.


LoveToKnow Dating would like to thank Suzanne Pedro for taking the time to participate in this Define Personality Traits on the First Date interview.

Define Personality Traits on the First Date