Exercises

Exercises for Flirting

Photo Exercise: Recognizing Body Language

Based on body language alone, can you tell whether any flirting is going on, and if so, how it is being received?


#1


flirt2

Discussion

She appears to be flirting with him, if somewhat casually:  her body is oriented towards him (contrary to the default posture one would assume on a couch). She is gazing very directly at him, trying to engage him in eye contact. Her body posture is open (arms not crossed, shoulders not hunched), and she is touching her neck and her leg, as if to draw attention to her body.  He is not reciprocating:  he is avoiding eye contact, his hands are clasped.  He doesn’t appear to be discouraging friendly interaction, however: his body posture is still fairly open, and his facial expression does not show annoyance or discomfort. His body is following the “natural” position of sitting on the couch: he has neither turned towards her nor away from her.

#2

flirt3

Discussion

Both are flirting: they are smiling, maintaining eye contact, their bodies are angled towards each other in ways that required deliberate adjustment (not following the default “seat” of the couch). Their body language is open, but she is leaning in towards him, and he has his arm stretched out towards her. He appears to be trying to occupy as much space as possible, which is a male gender cue.

#3

flirt1

Discussion

Neither appears to be flirting — this appears to be a friendly conversation.  His body is following the natural “seat” of the couch, neither turned towards her nor away from her, while her body is somewhat angled, but not pointing directly towards him, and she is learning slightly back, away from him.  Clasping one’s own hands seems to be a “closed” signal, not inviting.  The eye contact would be appropriate to either a friendly or flirting interaction, but their facial expressions are not smiling and inviting.  (Hers, in particular, seems to be somewhat disapproving — mouth slightly turned down, eyes narrowed — but this may be a passing expression, responding to some particular thing he’s saying at the moment.)

#4

flirt4

Discussion

She is clearly flirting: her body is deliberately facing him and leaning in towards him. She is maintaining her gaze, trying to make eye contact with him, and smiling.  He is clearly trying to discourage her. His body is angled away from hers and leaning away from her (towards the armrest), his arms are crossed, he is refusing to make eye contact, and his facial expression is unhappy.

Audio Exercise: Recognizing Flirtatious Tone of Voice

Listen to the four audio clips and determine for each, whether any flirting is going on, and if so, how it is being received. Note that the dialogue is identical in all four clips, so you don’t need to pay attention to what is being said, only to the tone of voice.


#1


Answers

She is flirting; he is discouraging. (This is the audio that goes with tab #4 above.)

#2


Answers

Neither is flirting; both are merely friendly. (This recording goes with the photo in tab #3 above.)

#3


Answers

She’s flirting; he’s merely friendly. (This corresponds to the photo in tab #1 above.)

#4


Answers

Both are actively flirting. (This audio goes with the image in tab #2 above.)

Video Exercise: Recognizing Flirting, Interpreting Reactions

Three young women and a man are having a conversation. Is there any flirting going on, and how can you tell? If there is, how is the flirting received?


Our discussion of the video

The woman with glasses is clearly flirting with the man. Every time he speaks, she orients her body towards his, keeps her gaze firmly locked on him, and makes encouraging, approving comments. (You may notice that she gives him one good look before he ever speaks, even though she should be looking at the speaker and this requires her to turn her head quite far.) There is a clear contrast between the lack of interest she projects when the woman is speaking, and the interest she shows at everything the man says. When speaking to him, she keeps her body language open, at one point she touches her face, and she repeatedly puts her hand on her neck. She appears to try to cut him off from the larger conversation, to create a private conversation for the two of them, asking him follow-up questions, and putting her body physically between him and the woman describing her dream, so that he has to lean out and look around her to rejoin the larger conversation. It’s not clear whether he notices the flirtation, but he certainly doesn’t encourage it. He answers the flirter’s questions briefly, shows no signs of flirting back, and keeps returning to the larger conversation — at one point, even explicitly saying to the flirter, “Come on, let’s listen,” so that she feels the need to apologize.

Role Play/Audio Modeling Exercise:

With a confederate of the appropriate gender and orientation for you (not a family member, because that would be kinda weird), perform the same dialogue several different ways, focusing on the vocal cues alone. It’s as if you’re acting for the radio — you don’t need to face each other or look at each other or worry about anything but what’s coming out of your mouth. Make sure you perform it all different ways, sometimes playing the role of A and sometimes playing the role of B, sometimes flirting and sometimes not, sometimes discouraging the other person from flirting, and sometimes not. Can you switch from flirty-voice to non-flirty-voice fairly easily? Can you switch from encouraging to discouraging fairly easy? What needs more practice? You can use the same dialogue from our earlier exercises (reproduced here for you) or, if you prefer, write a different one in conjunction with your confederate.

Speaker A: So what do you think of this music?
Speaker B: I really like it, this song is by my favorite band.
Speaker A: Oh really? I love these guys too.
Have you ever seen them in concert?
Speaker B: No, but I’d really like to.
Speaker A: You should if you get the chance.
I saw them last summer and it was a great show.
What  other kinds of music do you like?
Speaker B: I listen to a little bit of everything. I play in a band too.
Speaker A: That’s so great! What instrument do you play?
Speaker B: I play guitar and I sing a little, too.
Speaker A: I think that’s really cool, I’ve always wanted to learn to play guitar.
Do you guys have any shows coming up?
Speaker B: Yeah, we have one in a couple of weeks.
Speaker A: Awesome! I’d love to go.

Role Play / Video Modeling Exercise

Repeat the role plays from the previous exercise, but this time film the interactions, adding in posture, distance, facial expressions, gaze and eye contact cues in addition to the verbal and vocal cues practiced previously.

Together, watch the recordings in which the other person was flirting with you, but you were trying to discourage them. What clear signals did you send that you wanted the flirting to stop? Were you too forceful in your discouraging signs (resulting in unnecessary offense)? Were you consistent in the signals you were sending, or did you end up being somewhat ambiguous in your response, sending mixed signals? How could you have made the performance clearer? Discuss, and then try again!

If you’re also interested in working on your active flirting skills, watch the recordings together and discuss whether you successfully come across as flirty when you intend to, or whether there are some behaviors that work against this performance (especially any that might indicate lack of interest or hostility).

Once you feel that you have successfully mastered this script, try the exercise again, but this time don’t follow any script! That is, act out an approach and an ensuing conversation, but it can be about anything. Can you send the appropriate signals of flirtation, encouragement and/or discouragement despite the demands of real-time, unscripted conversation?

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