Since Helen of Troy, women have found that flirting will get them what they want.
Readers, I have a dark confession: I live to flirt. Not flagrant, purposeful, succumb-to-me-now flirtation (though this has its place), but trying to be pleasant, smoothing things over, making-the-world-go-round type of stuff. Thus far this week, I have flirted with Swiss train guards, a posse of shy schoolgirls, a Gallic chef, two salesmen, one of my closest friends and an airline pilot. None of this had anything to do with eroticism. Rather, it was an attempt to charm the poor blighters – by which I also mean: charm something out of them.
Happily, the world of science has come forward to confirm my credo. Girlish wiles count for much, according to a coquettish little study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Researchers set up experiments to measure the effects of feminine charm within negotiations. They defined this beguiling quality as a management technique available to women, combining warmth and friendliness, flattery, playfulness, and a certain sex appeal. Such behaviour was discovered to boost economic benefits, improving the prospects of bargaining success by up to a third.
Professor Laura Kray, of the University of California, Berkeley, who led the investigation, confirms: “Women are uniquely confronted with a trade-off in terms of being perceived as strong versus warm. Using feminine charm in negotiation is a technique that combines both. The key is to flirt with your own natural personality in mind. Be authentic. Have fun. That will translate into confidence, which is a strong predictor of negotiation performance.” To which I say: “Ha!” and “Tra la la”, while lightly touching your arm.
The platitudinous celebrity answer to how they would change the world has traditionally been: “Secure world peace.” At a microcosmic level, I would argue that flirting does just that. It is a form of politeness that should be aimed at man, woman and child to make the world a happier, more harmonious place.
To deploy another platitude, one might call it “emotional intelligence”. And if women hold the advantage, then lucky us. Which is not to say that chaps are powerless in the flirting department. The most charming men are also the most dangerous – one would do anything for them, anything, and with