I was doing some dating coaching with a client recently and the topic of flirting came up. After I shared a few tips he told me about the advice that he'd been given in the military about all things sexual and romantic.
On the one hand I really understand how the information conveyed will totally protect the military and this man from any legal claims of sexual harassment or impropriety. On the other hand if taken extremely literally, as my client was doing, then it basically shuts down almost all flirting, including any form of touching "until you are sure that she wants to touch you." I think he was getting dismissed by what I call the Mr. Roger's Phenomenon.
To help this gentleman I pulled a book off of my shelf called Superflirt, by Tracey Cox. I mentioned that I hadn't read the book thoroughly, but that he should give it a try. When he returned the book at our next coaching meeting, he thanked me profusely, and he said, I'd been doing it all wrong!
So I thought I'd give Tracey a shout out and talk about her book.
I thought I'd start with a great quote from the Introduction. To dispel myths about flirting Tracey defines it in a way that makes it approachable and doable. She says, [Superflirts] just let others know they find them interesting. For people just starting off with flirting I think that's a wonderful description of the attitude that's needed. For extreme beginners I usually recommend that they simply make eye contact and smile.
To expand on the definition Tracey then says, [Superflirts are] playful, adventurous, open, friendly, warm, lovable, sizzlingly sexy, and, above all, popular. OK so for beginners she may go over the top somewhat with the last two items in that list, but I love how she starts off. How about just expressing your warmth, openness, and friendliness?
The book is divided into these sections: Body Basics, Sex It Up, Flirting Fundamentals, Talking Tricks, All-Out Flirting, Flirting Fix-Its, and Seduction Strategies. There are lots of pictures to help convey the concepts, and the book is laid out in a very attractive, easy-to-read format. A key philosophy of the book is fake it until you make it (before you dismiss the idea you should understand that this is a critical skill advocated by most 12-Step programs; it's a fancy way of saying that practice makes perfect, even if the practice feels awkward at first).
One of the things I like most about Tracey's writing is that she shows a clear knowledge of fundamental behavioral techniques. I use a wide-variety of cognitive-behavioral techniques in my coaching, which are backed up by research in terms of overall effectiveness when working with emotions. Although she uses aggressive and catchy headers and phrasing, she always emphasizes relaxing, being yourself, being confident, valuing yourself, and so on. Some of the techniques that she shares for evaluating "are we on the same page, are we OK?" are the same techniques I learned as a student counselor for assessing the body language of our clients in terms of rapport. In other words her methods are sound.
I also found the section called The Touch Test—when and how to initiate touch—to be particularly helpful.
The one drawback I find about the book is that it begins with a very dense section about body language. Beginners and shy people may want to start with the third chapter, Flirting Fundamentals, which presents information in clear pictures and smaller chunks of information. You may want to read the body language chapter a few times and incorporate that information over time.
All in all I find this book to be very valuable in assisting clients when it comes to flirting. Also as a side benefit, the book reinforces relaxing and self acceptance, which are key components to peak performance that I advocate in all of my coaching.