The Best Way To Flirt
Flirting is often associated with the idea of spoken words, like witty jokes and pick-up lines. And words do make up a part of our social skills and the games we play. But dating, mating, and discovering an intimate relationship are also about body language. What you say without words matters when breaking the ice, making a primary impression, and getting a date. What’s more, the match between your nonverbal communication and a verbal request may mean the difference between connection and an evening meal alone.
Research About Body Language and Influence
The importance of this match between verbal persuasion and nonverbal communication (sometimes called congruence) is upheld by research from Fennis and Stel (2011). The authors were interested in figuring out what types of body language would enhance the success of various compliance strategies. Specifically, the authors were interested in which nonverbal styles would certainly be most persuasive to individuals with different “regulatory focus” (Higgins, 1998).
There are 2 types:
Promotion focus– goals are seen as hopes and aspirations, and the individual is eager for advancement.
Prevention focus– goals are seen as obligations and duties, and the person is cautious and alert.
Across two experimentations, Fennis and Stel (2011) found that a good fit between a persuader’s influence strategy and his or her nonverbal conversation raised the chance of success. Practically, they note, when trying to persuade someone with a cautious “prevention focus,” it is much better to use a vigilant nonverbal style. In contrast, persuasion with an open “promotion focus” demands an eager nonverbal style.
What This Indicates for Flirting and Dating
Throughout the course of meeting and attracting a partner, the regulatory focus of that partner is going to change (as are your influence techniques). When you first meet a possible partner, they are likely to be vigilant and cautious of you as a complete stranger: They will have a prevention focus. So your first persuasion strategies will be centered around making them relaxed and getting them to like you– getting their guard down.
Later in the relationship, after safety and security and liking are ideally established, the relationship can be moved forward. The potential partner usually feels safer and more adventurous at this point (indicating a shift to a promotion focus). Essentially, they transition from worrying about what could go wrong in their interaction with you to wondering what good things they can get from your relationship. At that point, requests for dates, phone numbers, and further courtship becomes much more likely.
So in the outset of a social connection with a potential new partner, remember that the person is most likely cautious (prevention focused). According to the analysis by Fennis and Stel (2011) above, this requires a cautious nonverbal style, defined as:
- Using specific and small gestures.
- Making use of slower movements and speech.
- Taking a backward-leaning posture (away from the other person, rather than leaning forward and crowding them).
Essentially, this means using body language that is a little unsociable at first– quiet, calm, and non-threatening. Remember, you are essentially a stranger. Give your prospective partner some personal space, lean back a bit, keep your hands from flailing, and smile warmly. This will assist your verbal persuasion efforts to encourage them to feel comfortable and like you.
You will realize you’ve won them over when your partner’s body language begins to change: His or her shoulders will loosen up. They will lean in to you more, make more eye contact, and smile. They will start to open up. At this point, they have changed to a promotion focus– and now it’s time for you to switch to an eager nonverbal style, defined as:
- Using more animated, open, and broad gestures.
- Using faster and more energetic movements and speech.
- Taking a forward-leaning body posture (conveying interest and excitement).
Now that you are no longer a possible threat, you can convey your own interest and exhilaration through body language– and in fact, you should. No one is going to get excited about a date request from a man with slumped shoulders and hang-dog look; similarly, a woman with her chin up and an animated personality is much more fascinating. Once you’ve broken the ice, amp up your willing nonverbal style, and ask for a date … (If you need help with that, see this previous post.).
What you don’t say really matters. It also alters throughout the course of a dating connection. Stay calm and lean back in the beginning to persuade your partner that you are safe, trustworthy, and amiable. Lean in and get more energetic once you’ve earned their trust, to inspire them to become excited about the possibility of seeing you again. Add these body language strategies to your social skills, and flirting, dating, and mating will become much easier.