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London - From the moment I set eyes on my target I click into flirtation mode and make my approach. With one fluid movement I loop my arm through theirs and shower them with compliments.
“Have you done something different with your hair?” I coo. “You look wonderful. And what’s that scent? It’s gorgeous.”
Overwhelmed, flattered and taken aback by the attention, the subject of my advances blushes and visibly melts before me. A couple more smiles and a seductive stroke of the arm and my mission is accomplished - they are putty in my hands.
But my prey is not some hapless male, caught in the beam of a predatory woman’s sexual advances. Oh no, the subject of my attention is a woman.
There is nothing sexual about the encounter. I’m not a lesbian and have never had even the slightest frisson of curiosity about my own sex. What’s more, even if I did have those inclinations, I doubt this woman would tempt me: a greying, middle-aged battleaxe who makes Maggie Thatcher look like a pussy cat.
So why the charm offensive? Well, because since I was asked to work alongside her on a short charity project, I have made it my business not only to avoid becoming cannon fodder, but to make her swoon with the attention I pay her. I intend to flirt her into submission.
Yes, flirt. As in “to behave in a playful manner which suggests, whether sincerely or otherwise, that you’re attracted to that person” (I checked the definition).
It’s a strategy not to be confused with old-fashioned schmoozing - which is more generalised in its crowd-pleasing compliments and has no recourse to the coy, naughty smiles or eyelash-batting that earmarks flirting, or the kind of language that has historically been deployed between men and women as they play the attraction power game.
But using the flirtatious mechanisms normally reserved for men can have significant impact on your female relationships, too.
“Harnessing flirtation techniques on other women can be an excellent social tool,” says Dr Sandi Mann, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Central Lancashire. “It’s a benign, supportive and comforting way of saying to another woman: ‘I like you and I’m going to make you feel good about yourself.’
“So as a sweetener to a difficult boss or tricky colleague it can be effective - particularly when you consider some women can feel competitive in the workplace. In this situation, flirting disarms those cut-throat tendencies because it implies you are not a threat to them.”
D r Mann adds: “As for friendships, flirting is an effective way of showing you’re close to someone.
“That linking of the arms, putting your head on their shoulder or copious amounts of hugs - all things a woman might do when she flirts with a man - are not only supportive gestures. You’re physically laying claim on someone, saying: ‘Look, we’re close friends.’ When you give that message, it’s likely the friend will reciprocate.”
I have to hold up my hands and say that although I’ve always been a tactile person, it was my friend, Natalie, who gave me a masterclass in flirting. A lovely girl with an enormous personality, she admits to being a notorious flirt with men.
And married with two children, she says it is merely tactical, fun and on her terms.
However, she told me that in her line of work - recruitment consulting - where she often has to warm people up and encourage them to engage, she flirts with women, too.
“It happened to me the other day,” she told me. “I went into a business meeting with a fairly self-contained woman and I immediately complimented her on her dress and told her it brought out the colour of her eyes. It would sound like a come-on if a man said it. But between two heterosexual women, flirting is a way to help you click with someone, to build relationships.”
The trick is to either sound sincere, or be so obviously over the top and playful that your comments couldn’t be mistaken for sycophancy. So instead of gushing about someone’s dress, place your hands on their middle and say: “How tiny is that waist!” The key is to make the other person blush with your attention.
Another way to flirt with women is to use fruity, archaic language laced with Carry On-style innuendo. When a friend showed me her new coat, I rubbed her shoulder and told her she was clearly a “minx” out to dazzle the men in her office. She beamed with joy.
Above all, it’s about noticing the little things and using them to make someone feel a million dollars - and it’s effective because many women lack self-esteem. In a restaurant the other week with a couple of friends, the waitress practically melted when I fixed her with my attention.
As she took our order, I noticed the name on her badge and complimented her on the fact it was pretty and unusual.
I could feel her mood lift: she was being treated like an individual rather than an anonymous server.
She also had a lovely Scottish burr. “Oh, I could listen to that accent all day,” I sighed. “It’s so comforting and melodic.”
By now she was dazzling our party with her smiles, particularly when I asked her where she was from and told her she should be doing TV voice-overs.
Little wonder she kept our table groaning with free bread, olives and biscuits with coffee.
You might think this all reads as soulless or cynical. I’d take issue with both. Flirting is a diverting pastime that benefits the archer and the target. “Flirting can make the other person feel good about themselves,” says Harley Street psychologist Sue Hamer.
“You can be giddy, silly, warm, tactile, show your appreciation, compliment in an extravagant way. It’s a warm experience for the other person. As women, we can bond in a sisterly way but we still have boundaries - perhaps created by suspicion, insecurity or competition. Flirting can soften things up.”
Another female friend is especially good at being a text flirt with fellow females. Last year, when I was working on a book as a ghost writer, she’d send me flirty little texts to keep my spirits up as I bashed away at my keyboard.
And as I do broadcasting work, too, if she catches an appearance she always compliments me. After a recent appearance on This Morning, she texted that I was “a hot babe”.
Believe me, receiving female flirtation feels fantastic. So why not give it a go? A subtle arm stroke, eye contact and a bit of banter might just get you the promotion you’ve been angling for. - Daily Mail