All the manuals are for wooing women. How ladies must flirt? Ask Sue Ostler.
It's the ultimate instance of gender inequality. Everyone's out there to tell men how to flirt, but the ladies have to manage on their own - or not flirt at all.
Sydney-based writer and confidence coach, Sue Ostler decided to change that when she wrote Flirt Diva almost 15 years ago. The book's popularity led her to form the London Flirty Shimmy, a weekly Friday night outing for girls so that they could go out and 'practise'. "I've met thousands of women and men who have responded with positivity to the art of flirting," says Ostler in an email interview to Mirror.
Calling it an expression of self-confidence, she says flirting tells the world that we are self-assured and comfortable communicating to the best of one ability in a given situation. "Good flirting is not necessarily about a sexual agenda. When done correctly, it can help with everyday relations - whether at the workplace or in a social environment," she adds.
And how do men perceive women who make the first move? Ostler says it depends on various factors including age, social environment and cultural beliefs. "Generally speaking, it's fair to say that if a woman is smiling and making good eye-contact while using open body language, she will be well received by anyone," she adds.
It's easy to cross the line between flirting and inappropriate behaviour. The trick is to believe in what you are doing and do it with confidence. Without it, you seem like she's trying too hard. "There are no rules, really. What you get away with depends on your personality and how outgoing you are," says Ostler.
Touch: When it comes to being tactile, go easy with touch. Not everyone likes being felt up. It is safest to start with a light tap on the arm. If that's well received, you can progress. This does not include the lower body, unless you have a very clear signal to go ahead.
Space: Respect the other's personal space and do not stand closer than your culture and social environment allows.
Body language: It should reveal the way you feel. If you are feeling warm and welcoming, your open arms and relaxed posture will indicate it. If, on the other hand, you sit hunched with your arms crossed, you'll come across as closed and negative. Women tend to be more tactile than men, and so, tapping a man's wrist or letting the hand linger on his biceps isn't seen as unacceptable. Ostler says most women tend to keep it way too subtle. "I tell the ladies to use the combined repetition of strong eye-contact, positive body language, tactile communication and light breezy banter," she suggests.
Testing waters: The best way to test the waters is by smiling, making eye-contact, and waiting for cues. Is the object of your affection smiling back? Successful flirting between two people is often a game of 'monkey see, monkey do', also known as mirroring. Watch closely to see if he is mirroring your moves or simply looking over your shoulder.
Choose a context
The rules for romantic flirting are different from wooing at the workplace. Adapt your style according to context. What is considered acceptable at a party is certainly not okay in office. "Keep things relaxed and chatty at work. Save the lingering touch and come hither look for the party zone," advises Ostler.
And in case the cat gets your tongue, here's Ostler's easy-peasy plan for a smooth ride during the conversation stage: A-E-I-O-U. A, as in, ask lots of questions. E is for ears to listen, rather than talk (you would have noticed how men love to talk). I is for letting your true personality shine. O is for Oh My God - showing some animation and a human side. U is for you - the person you are talking to - making them the focus of conversation (not that ex you want to get back at).
Smile, smile, smile.
Shoulders back, tummy in, chin up!
Strong, direct eye-contact.
Ask lots of questions.
Believe that you are worthy of his attention.
If you fancy a guy who works in the same firm as you, or someone you meet professionally, you don't want to have egg on your face after bearing your heart. Humour is a good tool to use. Flirt, but with keep it light-humoured. If he doesn't respond, nothing is lost; not even your dignity. Intensity and drama scare away most guys anyway.
- Freshia Mistry Marketing professional