Wednesday, August 07, 2002

To flirt, first you must listen

Keep conversation light, keep it clean and let the other person talk

By Shauna Scott Rhone,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Third of five parts

        Anticipation and a light spirit brings you and your friends out for some nighttime fun. Just you and your crew, sipping and nodding to the latest sounds. And then, from across the room, your eyes lock with a stranger's. Attraction is there, but what about courage?

img Monday:
Tristate's dating scene
Making small talk
Internet dating
Groups and dating services
Today: How to flirt
The first date
Friday: A good match

You are invited to respond to our series, note your experiences and offer tips for improving the single life for follow-up coverage. E-mail
        Sarah Hawkins, 30, of East Walnut Hills believes a lot of potential relationships start and end right there. “Because of Cincinnati's conservative history, born and bred Cincinnatians are often shy or reserved when it comes to meeting people. Many people here are simply too shy to approach someone call attractive. But if you never ask, how will you know?”

        Christa Johnson agrees. “All my guy friends are shy,” says the 30-year-old Westwood resident, “they seem to take rejection more personally. I've even approached ladies for some of them. I'll say, "He's very nice, you should come over and meet him.' ”

        The critical element in overcoming that shyness and making the move is knowing how to flirt.

The opening line

        OK. So you walk over (or watch them walk over to you) and mutual smiles say you're on the right track. To keep from sounding desperate or looking like a doofus, plan your opening line.

        A singles panel convened by the Enquirer hopes that line is not: So, what's your sign?

Sarah Hawkins believes Cincinnatians are often shy or reserved
Christa Johnson has helped her male friends get dates
        Talk about where you are — the place, the event, the party, says Marta Trujillo, 25, of Reading. If that goes well, then introduce yourself.

        “The big thing to always have in this situation is a good sense of humor,” she says. “Laughter makes a good first impression.”

        If you've expanded your comfort zone (for details, see Monday's story), made sure you're at a spot where others are open to new friendships (see Tuesday's story), then your confidence level now needs to be high enough that you can make a serious move without taking it seriously.

        And the best way to finesse confidence is to flirt. Not a lustful attack, but the pleasant delivery of a compliment designed to put your new friend at ease. Learning the art of flirting improves your odds of attracting someone new.

        Flirting becomes the perfect icebreaker in almost any situation, says author and relationships coach Susan Rabin. Her definition of flirting? “Acting amorously without serious intent.”

        “If you don't take a risk, you don't get a reward,” she says. “Nine out of 10 people get rejected, so I tell people to write down nine no's and one yes on a piece of paper. If the other person says "no,' mark it off and know you're getting closer to the "yes.' If you don't throw it out there, you don't get anything.”

Effective flirting

        Ms. Rabin has taught thousands of people how to flirt effectively in her online classes at the New York-based School of Flirting ( A former health and sex education teacher, she also holds sessions for adults on how to flirt and meet other people.

        “I saw there was a lot of shyness in my seminars,” she says, “and there were always more men than women present. During one session, I asked people to raise their hands if they considered themselves shy. A lot of people did, and I asked the others to look around the room. I said "imagine these people dressed up at a party. They're all shy, just like a lot of people you see.' Everybody's afraid of being rejected, not just you.”

        She also encourages people to use a method she calls “QCC:” ask open ended questions, make a comment to someone while you're standing in line and compliment at least one other person.

    10. The human body is 90 percent water, and I'm real thirsty.
   9. With a mane like that you must be a Leo.
   8. Are your legs tired? Because you have been running through my dreams all night.
   7. Is your father a thief? He has stolen the stars from the skies and put them in your eyes.
   6. Are you okay? It must have been a long fall from heaven.
   5. My bed is broken. Can I sleep in yours?
   4. No wonder the sky's gray today. All the blue is in your eyes.
   3. If I could rearrange the alphabet, I'd put U and I together.
   2. Do you have any raisins? No? How about a date?
   1. Can I have a picture of you so I can show Santa what I want for Christmas?
   Source: The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Dating and Sex by Joshua Piven, David Borgenicht and Jennifer Worick (Chronicle Books; $14.95)
   1. Get out of the house! Watching Love Connection and actually making one aren't compatible.
   2. Take the initiative: other people are shy too.
   3. Nothing terminates encounters faster than a Terminator approach. Give others time to get to know you.
   4. Your body is speaking even when you are not. Be aware of what message you're sending.
   5. Touch is a powerful communicator. Use it sparingly.
   6. Your job, car or inflated ego is not an aphrodisiac. Showing as much interest in your partner's achievements as you do in your own is the ultimate turn-on.
   7. Talking too much is a sure sign that you aren't listening.
   8. Anyplace can be a meeting place. Make where you are work for you.
   9. Be generous with sincere compliments.
   10. Smile, smile, smile! Someone is interested in you!
   And remember, flirting is not a one-shot deal. Try, try again.
   Source: How to Attract Anyone, Anytime, Anyplace by Susan Rabin (Plume/Penguin; $10.95)
        “Not a sexual comment,” she says “Keep your remarks about something above the neck.”

        Ms. Rabin also says talking about possessions is a no-no.

        “Don't make men success objects by asking about their car, job or money. Compliment them on the color of their shirt, a book they're reading. Throw (the compliment) out there as if you're the first one to notice it.”

        If your compliment or comment is sincere, the other person won't feel rejected.

        “Use body language,” says Ms. Rabin. A smile, an acknowledging nod, the subtle leaning forward, keeping your palms up as you listen and pay attention to the new conversation. “Who's gonna approach someone with arms folded?” Ms. Rabin asks.

        “If I'm in a bad mood before I go out,” she says, “I'll dress in bright colors. They make me feel good and good feelings will come back to you.

        “It's not easy to do, to approach someone you don't know,” she says. “You have to work on removing automatically negative thoughts.” If you make the time to meet someone new, you could, at least, walk away with a new friend.

        “What do you have to lose?” she says. “You'll never die of embarrassment or rejection. It's important to get a positive philosophy.”

Hard-core shyness

        Still chat shy?

        Ms. Rabin suggests writing down five of your own interests and seeking activities that reflect them, for instance art classes, lectures, an organization's meetings. Then just push your shy self to the event.

        Make a personal goal of talking to at least three people about the event you're attending. No flirting, no “looking for love” radar sweeps. Just make straight, casual conversation to someone about wherever you are. That's called stretching your comfort zone.

        “I recommend using the five W's (who, what, when, where, why method of asking open-ended questions),” Ms. Rabin says. “You don't have to be brilliant in these conversations. Small talk is very appealing.

        “Don't start with "I.' Talk about the other person and listen to them. Don't let it be your "WIIFM' (what's in it for me). Always focus on the other person, listen to what they're saying. I can't stress enough, you have to be a good listener.”

        Use these same tools to approach someone who interests you and watch what happens.

        “Don't be an over-the-top flirt,” Ms. Rabin cautions. “Batting your lashes, titillating language can be too much, too forward. Flirting is a subtle art. Don't be aggressive. The first step in communication is allowing something positive to happen.

        “When you become a good flirt,” she says, “you can easily walk over to someone looking at an Architectural Digest, for example, and ask, "are you an architect?'

        “If it leads to a discussion, great. If not, use my favorite four-letter word: Next!”

        Next: The first date

        Tristate singles are invited to respond to our series, note their experiences and offer tips for improving the single life for follow-up coverage. E-mail:


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