With a looming holiday, a few glasses of bubbly or ale and Christmas party’s, people start to relax and charismatic business elves appear. The season of good will brings out much banter, flirting and charm.
Charm and flirting are fabulous skills and have an impact on how others feel about you. And how others feel about you is rooted in how people feel about themselves after spending time with you.
Do they feel energised and valued or weakened and devalued? Personal branding has a lot to do with charm and flirting and should be strutted out the whole year not just during the season of mince pies and carols.
Now before you point the turkey carving knife in my direction or spurt your bubbly with incredulity, let me define what I mean by charm and flirting
I’m not talking about surreptitious seductive manoeuvres, sleazy innuendos or manipulative behaviours. Nor am I referring to disingenuous words, sycophantic actions, effusive compliments or snake oil sales flattery.
Flirting is not gender specific either, I love flirting with both men and women equally as it’s about showing appreciation or admiration albeit with some banter and fun.
What is charm and flirting? Why is it important?
Being charming and flirtatious share similar elements and are often best served with a topping of witty banter. And banter of itself is a playful communication skill sorely missing as it dissipates awkward energy and the hustle and bustle of business. I fear that we have gone too far right across being PC (politically correct) with a constant fear of being misconstrued. But like anything, there are lines that can get crossed. It’s the motivation and intent behind what is said and how it’s said that is key.
The following elements have in part been inspired by Dale Carnegie’s seminal ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. First printed in 1936, the classic was reprinted in 2011. The tenets are equally, if not more important in today’s hyper digital age as it was back in the days of manual typewriters, dial back phones and Bing Crosby’s ‘Silent Night’.
Enthusiasm and interest is infectious and the way a conversation and interaction starts pretty much sets the scene, albeit the foundation. Flirting and charm share core elements of any basic sales training and relationship building skills. Dale Carnegie was the original champion of the ethos of leadership, relationships and influence. One of my favourite quotes is:
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you”
Charm and flirting starts with sincere and respectful intentions to build honest business relationships. Be it from the side of client, supplier, staff or networks. Essential elements include:
- Making eye contact
- Addressing personally and repeating a person’s name
- Being fully present – i.e. not using mobiles or glancing to others
- Smiling with enthusiasm
- Initiating a curious conversation with great questions
- Giving ‘genuine’ compliments – making the other person feel valued
- Having fun and being a little lighthearted to build rapport
- Using body language to communicate interest
- Taking time for the other person prior and in present tense
- Banter and playfulness (again not coercive or sexual)
So why is charm and flirting important? Given that the first 5-10 minutes of any interaction or conversation sets the scene for the relationship flow, if you are not creating a platform of genuine enthusiasm and interest, you will be leaving business and relationships on the table.
Even the first few lines of an email, text or social media message will frame the scene. Building rapport and showing you are excited to be communicating is the foundation to engage, relax and create a platform of attraction. And how you start tends to be how you finish. So being charming and flirtatious is good business sense when done genuinely
A few tips
Smile, smile, smile – inside and outside. Think about how you respond to others who smile and welcome you. Greet people with verbal and body language enthusiasm. Portray in your body language, words, expressions and gestures that you are delighted to meet or talk with the other person. Enthusiasm is infectious and sits well into the sphere of reciprocal influence.
A lot of people on Zoom, Skype and Hangout calls can forget that they are actually being seen and their body language and sour puss disinterested expressions don’t do them any favours
Prior to any conversation or meeting (and ideally social media or email communication) do some decent research. The amount of people who haven’t bothered to look at a website, or social media profile is startling. It only takes 5 minutes to read a website and/or profiles. And a clear benefit is finding plenty of conversational nuggets and opportunities to give a genuine compliments and boost connection by showing you cared. And it’s particular magic to read something public and personal which personally resonates. Nothing bonds more than a shared value, personal issue or interest.
‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’
Try starting a conversation or written message with something positive about the other person’s work or action. Nothing shows interest and care more than a genuine compliment. It also cements the law of psychological reciprocity. And if it’s in your style, or if appropriate combine with some witty banter. The latter may be harder for introverts, that’s totally ok. A quiet compliment delivered with sincerity is just fine. Whilst the extroverts will be of higher octane.
Personalised starter questions
Now this ethos comes from my years as a media recruiter. Asking the banal ‘tell me about yourself’ in interviews never really did anyone any favours. You need to personalise and be more specific.
Ask questions that demonstrate your interest and prior research. For example… instead of asking ‘tell me about your printing businesses’, try ‘is printing leaflets and brochures a big part of your business’.
Gratitude & Appreciation
This is a big one that seems to be stored up for the silly season. Staff, clients, suppliers and networks – everyone likes to feel appreciated. Flirting can also be giving a lighthearted and warm personal compliment.
Make every person feel a little special in your first message. Sure the connection invite should not be tick and flick but personal. But it’s in that first message where you level the charm to build rapport.
Fundamental rule is to read profiles thoroughly and websites before a first message and reflect something back. Give a compliment in your first message (genuine) about what the person has done, written etc. No fake snake oil words. If you cannot find something that really inspires you about the other person, perhaps consider not even being connected.
Truly banter is charm and flirting gold. It not only makes the other person feel good when you help them relax and share in a bit of fun but your own Dopamine levels get a boost. So the charm continues to all around you and the other person.
The secret weapon in 2020?
Being charming makes a real impact in business areas, be it at the front end, the middle or maintenance of existing relationships. And as competition in most industries social media noise shows no sign of abating, charm and flirting could well be a secret weapon. Mind you this was the weapon pre the digital age that really cut the mustard. Let’s bring it back in 2020!