How Women in Business Can Flirt PROFESSIONALLY
When did flirting get such a bad rap? The word flirt can be used as a verb or noun. As a verb it is defined as "to behave as though attracted to or trying to attract someone, but without serious intentions." So what is the problem? And, of course, as a noun it just means being a person who flirts. Could there be anything more important in business than to attract or be attracted by a prospect or customer? Of course not.
The fact is flirting has been working for women and men since the beginning. Remember, it was Eve who got Adam to eat the forbidden fruit (an apple) in the Garden of Eden. If that isn't flirting I don't know what is---but I digress.
In today's workplace, where men and women are working together side by side, it only makes sense that flirting is part of nonverbal communication skills. The problem is men have no trouble flirting and women have been told that it will hold them back or worse - get them ousted.
So, while women in business are altering their natural-born interaction talents men get a free pass. Even President Obama regularly gets a nod as a successful flirt.
Clearly, our President is charming, clever, a great communicator, very smooth and a master at adopting the dialect of the group he is speaking to. In plain English, President Obama is a flirt and it works for him.
So, isn't it time women in the workplace got back to feeling comfortable in their own skin and acted naturally.
I learned how to flirt professionally from my Dad. The man was the master of charm. Even now, almost 20 years after his passing, people tell me how charming he was. He could mesmerize a room only moments after entering because he walk right up to people and let them know how special they were. It didn't matter who they were - presidents of companies, politicans, or service people - he knew them by name and let them know he was interested in them.
You see, what flirting really is is taking an interest in someone else. Too many of us, women and men, are only interested in ourselves. So, when we, particularly women, all of a sudden get to close to someone, invade their space, and become overly friendly, we are labeled a flirt or worse a vamp.
So how does a women in business professionally flirt? Simple.
First, realize that everyone has a comfortable, yet invisible space, around them at all times. You must never invade that space. Close talkers, those that seem to feel they need to be nose to nose to get your attention, lose the opportunity to flirt as their prospects run the other direction.
So rule #1 - keep your boundaries - approximately an arms length if your elbow is against your side (or about 16").
Rule #2 - remember your purpose is to show genuine interest in the other person. Compliments go a long way with both men and women. There is nothing wrong with telling a businessman that you admire his work, his company, or his tie. People enjoy being told that they are appreciated for what they do or even make good decisions by choosing the right tie.
Rule #3 - talking about your respective families can be as important as any business discussion, particularly if you can relate with what the kids or significant other does. I always relate stories of my son and husband in my conversations.
Rule #4 - finding the common denominator in your lives helps build rapport. The best way to genuinely be interested in someone else is to learn what you have in common. This can be done cleverly with a few simple questions.
Rule #5 -remember that spacial boundaries are important as well as personal boundaries - don't cross either. Personal questions don't belong in any business discussion regardless of what sex you are talking to. If you feel any hint of sexual innuendo excuse yourself and end the confversation. Flirting should never lead to anything other than a stronger business relationship - a relationship built on trust, respect and mutual benefit.
I consider myself a successful flirt in business, and I am proud to say that in all my years in working for others and for myself I have never been solicited for anything more than an opportunity to build a lasting professional relationship. I am privileged to have flirted with some of the most powerful men and women in America and I owe what success I have to have done it right.