Tag Archives: Relationships

How to Flirt With Finesse

How to Flirt With Finesse

You might dress well, have a cool job, and be blessed with beauty, but flirting is where the real magic of attraction is, especially when it comes to first impressions. In fact, good flirting is often more effective than good looks, and it’s something anybody can learn how to do.

Make Friendly, Lasting Eye Contact With a Smile

Eye contact is pivotal when flirting, and Marin suggests it’s the best way to indicate your interest. It means the difference between a friendly “how-do-ya-do” conversation and a “I’d really like to get to know you” conversation. Whether you’re across the room or already talking, eye contact has been shown to boost feelings of attraction. In one study, published in the Journal of Research and Personality, strangers were asked to stare into the eyes of other strangers. After holding a mutual, friendly gaze for two minutes, most participants reported increased feelings of passionate love toward the stranger.

Marin says the trick to flirtatious eye contact is to maintain your gaze longer than usual. If you spot someone across the way, try to meet their gaze, hold it for a few seconds, and look away. Repeat this a couple times and, if they aren’t giving you weird looks, then make your approach. Be cautious, though. While a kind gaze does wonders, an unbroken, wide-eyed stare is creepy. If you’re worried you’ll go overboard, use the triangle technique and smile. Nothing says “I like you” like a big ol’ smile.


Approach From the Front

How to Flirt With Finesse

The wrong kind of approach will end things before they even start. When you see someone who piques your interest, Vanessa Marin, licensed marriage and family therapist and Lifehacker contributor, recommends you always approach from the front. Nobody likes being snuck up on by a stranger, and Marin notes this is especially true for men trying to approach women.

If they’re facing away, either make your way around, or wait for them to move. And if they’re at the bar, at least grab a seat next to them instead of rudely tapping them on the shoulder. Approaching them from the front also gives you both a chance to catch each other’s glance and gauge interest.

Give Compliments That Go Beyond Looks

Compliments are great for flirting, but they’re also a dime a dozen. Dr. Nerdlove, dating columnist and Kotaku contributor, suggests you step things up and compliment them on something they had a conscious hand in:

Complimenting somebody’s looks is both unoriginal and not terribly interesting. Letting someone know that you appreciate, say, their fashion sense or their insight, on the other hand, shows that you get them on a personal level.

“You’re cute” and “you have pretty eyes” aren’t going to cut it. If you can’t think of something that appeals to their choices, Marin says you should at least try and give them an unusual compliment. Say something like “you have a very confident-sounding voice,” or “you seem like someone who knows how to get the best out of people,” or “you have a delightfully offbeat personality.” Leave them with a compliment that will stick with them and make you unique.

Also, ditch the pickup lines and cheesy one-liners. One study, published in the journal Sex Roles, suggests that both men and women hate “cute-flippant” opening lines. Overall, participants in the study preferred openers that were more innocuous or direct. So skip the “Are you wearing space pants?” lines and try to strike up an actual conversation about the venue, music, or a mutual friend. Otherwise, just go for it and offer to buy them a drink or make a unique compliment.


Use Appropriate Touch to Show Interest

How to Flirt With Finesse

A light touch, done carefully, is an extremely effective form of flirting for both men and women. Light touching shows interest beyond a doubt. Additionally, your flirting may not be as obvious as you think it is, so it’s a great for being more direct, as long as the situation allows and the atmosphere is appropriate. When someone is certain that you’re interested, it’s easier for them to respond in kind.

In the book Close Relationships, Dr. Pamela Regan, a professor of psychology at California State University, suggests there are three main types of social touch. The first is “friendly,” which is like a light shoulder push, shoulder tap, or handshake—not ideal for flirting, but good for testing the waters. The third type, “nuclear,” is the super obvious types of romantic touch, like a soft face touch or brushing someone’s hair out of their face, and is far too abrupt and forward for flirting. “Plausible deniability,” the second type of touch, is right in the middle and it’s where you want to be. It involves gentle and informal touching around the shoulder or waist, and the almost-always effective touch on the forearm. One study, published in Social Influence, found that a light touch on the forearm increased the chance participants would give out their phone number or go on a date. Just be sure the atmosphere is right when you try it, or you might make them feel uncomfortable.

Use Playful Teasing to Your Advantage

People want what they can’t have, and a little playful teasing shows that you’re interested, but also draws people in. Nerdlove recommends a simple technique called “pushing and pulling,” where, like a kitten with a string, you dangle a compliment within reach, then pull it back. Here are some of Nerdlove’s examples:

“You’re the coolest person I’ve met… at this bar, anyway.” “Holy crap, you really are such a nerd, it’s adorable!” “It’s a shame you seem like a nice person, you’re giving me the most inappropriate ideas.” “You’re awesome, I never meet people like you; get away from me, I just can’t talk to you.” “We’re never going to get along, we’re too similar.”

The key here is to absolutely avoid negging or backhanded compliments, like “you’ve got a great smile, even with those teeth.” Keep it playful, friendly, and make it abundantly clear that you’re teasing. Do it with a big smile, have fun (and be self-deprecating when it’s right) and while you’re at it, use your teasing as an opportunity to do some flirty touching.

Nerdlove says good flirting is about riffing and playing off what one another says. Don’t force a change in the conversation, and keep things light. Also keep in mind that some people don’t like teasing or witty banter, so be ready to switch gears. If you say something unfunny or upsetting, apologize and change the topic. Don’t make it about you, and don’t shift the blame on them, like “I’m sorry you were offended.” Acknowledge that you messed up and move on to a happier subject. When in doubt, Nerdlove suggests you just be a great listener. It gives people a chance to open up about themselves, and gives you a chance to relax.


Read Signals and Take a Hint

How to Flirt With Finesse

Things won’t always go your way when you flirt, so it’s important to know when to throw in the towel. Nerdlove suggests it all comes down to watching the other person’s body language and listening to how they respond. If you see these signals, dial it back:

  • They’re being polite, but unresponsive.
  • Their smiles are quick smirks that don’t look authentic.
  • They give short, uncomfortable laughs.
  • They’re not volleying back jokes or questions.

Nobody likes an overbearing flirt; It’s pushy, awkward, and super skeezy. Also, people talk. You never know when one bad social interaction will make things worse for you in the long run. If you swing and miss, shake it off, save face, and give it a shot another day.


Illustrations by Angelica Alzona.

Get Over a Breakup With “Redemptive Narrative” Journaling

Get Over a Breakup With "Redemptive Narrative" Journaling

There are a lot of great reasons to keep a journal, and getting over a breakup might be one of them. The key is using your words to reframe your suffering into a positive, or at least meaningful, experience.


A recent study, conducted by Erica B. Slotter and Deborah E. Ward at Villanova University, and published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, suggests that writing about your experience in a certain way can lessen the emotional toll that breakups take. Using a method called “redemptive narratives,” you can turn negative life events into a positive turning point in your life. For example, you can write about how you learned something important about yourself, or that you now have a better understanding of a relationship’s dynamics. Additionally, you can use hindsight to your advantage to reshape memories and decide how they positively affected your personal story. It may not work as well in the long-term, but time heals most wounds, and it can help you work through the darkest days of heartbreak early on.

Finding the Silver Lining | Journal of Social and Personal Relationships via Business Insider

Photo by lukestehr.

Focus On the Quality of Your Relationships While Networking, Not Quantity

Focus On the Quality of Your Relationships While Networking, Not Quantity

To some, “networking” means handing out as many business cards as possible. That can come off pretty sleazy and miss the point. Instead, focus on building quality relationships to grow your career.

As networking expert and author Derek Coburn explains, choosing who to network with and how to spend your time is key. Being willing to support others in tangible ways—as opposed to waiting for them to help you—is an investment that can come back to help you later on. It’s also important to focus your efforts on the people that are mutually beneficial, instead of someone who’s just going to suck you dry:

Your level of success when it comes to networking and relationship-building will be directly tied to your ability to interact with others who have a similar approach. You can show up genuinely looking to contribute, but it will be a waste of time if you are engaging with those who are only focused on themselves.

In this way, networking is a lot like building your regular personal relationships. Fancy that. The quality of your relationships will be determined by which people you choose to focus on and how much effort you put into them. Ideally, as time passes, you’ll build a professional network of real friends who look out for and support each other, not just a rolodex of people who trade favors.

The Most Important Rule of Networking No One Talks About | Inc.

Photo by Fruitnet.com.

Don’t Give Thoughtful Gifts, Give Your Friends What They Actually Want

Don't Give Thoughtful Gifts, Give Your Friends What They Actually Want

Thoughtful gifts are the best gifts, right? Not so fast. Choosing a “thoughtful” gift might be more selfish than letting your gift recipient choose their own gift.

Researchers at Ward of Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas at Austin conducted a series of experiments with 90 college students. Half were put in the gift recipient group and asked to choose a lamp to put on their gift registry. The other half, the givers, were asked to pick out a lamp for the recipients from five options, with one lamp marked as the one on the person’s registry.

The results are fascinating. Only 23 percent of the gift givers chose a different lamp for the other person if they weren’t close friends. However, if the gift giver and recipients were friends? An incredible 61 percent of the gift givers ignored the registry choice and selected a different lamp.

Although it’s a small sample size, the studies point out the bias we have when selecting gifts for our friends. Gift-giving is an occasion to share your personal interests with the recipient or demonstrate how well you know him or her. Whether consciously or not, we consider our own need to choose a “meaningful” gift and our relationship with the person rather than what the person might really want (even as stated on the gift registry!). The Washington Post explains:

The discrepancy seems to come from a simple misplaced belief that thoughtful presents are the best presents. They are not. In fact, they might just be the worst presents. The more thought you put into a present, the more likely you are to stray from buying what the person you’re buying the present for actually wants.

“Gift givers tend to focus on what people are like instead of what people actually would like,” said Steffel. “And it’s most pronounced when they’re shopping for people they are close to.”

In other words, people let their gift-giving egos get in the way of great presents. Especially when the recipient is someone they want to show they know really well.

If there’s a registry, stick to it. If not, you might be better off asking your friend what he or she wants or giving a gift card with a suggestion for something he or she might like. Perhaps that sounds thoughtless and lazy, but your friend might appreciate it more. If you’re on the gift-receiving end, you could help your friends out by setting up your wish list.

Ask and You Shall (Not) Receive: Close Friends Prioritize Relational Signaling Over Recipient Preferences in Their Gift Choices | Social Science Research Network via The Washington Post

Why thoughtful gifts are the worst gifts | The Washington Post

Photo by OakleyOriginals.

Look for These “Green Flags”When Dating Someone New

Look for These “Green Flags”When Dating Someone New

It is easy to get caught up looking for red flags when you start dating someone, but keeping a few “green flags” in mind helps you decide just as much if someone is worth your time.


When it comes to dating, no red flags is good, but not good enough. Basic human decency and common sense shouldn’t be your only factors. Here are some green flags to look for, too.

  • They communicate well about their thoughts and feelings, and give you the chance to do the same. This includes respectful boundary setting and asking for your input on things that affect you.
  • They’re passionate about something, whether that be work, a hobby, or their circle of friends. Having something that makes them happy outside of a relationship is a good sign they can be independent and won’t rely on your for all emotional needs.
  • They can admit fault when talking about past relationships.

Of course, this is just a starting point. Consider some of your own “green flags” as well, and instead of looking for faults, make sure you also look for the good factors that make a great partner. Dating is tough, but focusing on both red and green flags makes finding an awesome partner a little easier. For a full list of common green flags, check out the link below.

Green Flags | Pervocracy

Image from bennyseidelman.

Four Ways to Handle a Condescending Coworker

Four Ways to Handle a Condescending Coworker

We don’t always get to collaborate with people who have mastered the nuances of communication in the workplace. You may not be able to change the behavior of others, but you can at least learn to effectively deal with them to minimize the impact and suffering on you, your confidence, and your work.

This post originally appeared on The Muse.

Recently, a marketing firm called to solicit my business. They wanted me to sign up for their services, which included an online forum to produce and market classes based on my content. The young marketing rep was explaining all the features and benefits to me. Among them was a commitment to help produce social media posts, he explained, asking me in a rather condescending tone, “Do you know what social media is, Lea?” Could he have been more patronizing—or less informed about his potential customer?

Maybe you know a colleague who regularly employs a similar kind of verbal smackdown. This type of passive-aggressive behavior is meant to put you in your place, even though it’s often disguised as reasonable or friendly. Think of it as sugarcoated antagonism.

Patronizing people talk down to you. Their goal is to feel superior at your expense, resulting in you feeling belittled and inferior. You need a good game plan to defend against this type of behavior—or else your self-confidence is going to take a big hit.

Try one of these strategies to keep your cool and not sink to the level of the offending party.

1. Don’t Take it Personally

First and foremost, keep calm and carry on, as they say. If you take things personally, it’ll feel like this person is attacking you, and in turn, you’ll trigger a fear response mechanism in your brain.

When that happens you tend to make less clear and logical decisions, and you resort to more emotional ones. Remember, this person might be trying to provoke you. And if you let her, say, by lashing out to defend yourself and telling her what a jerk she is, you’ll just be playing right into her hands. Be calm, positive, and never underestimate the power of kindness in a negative situation.


2. Call Them on It

You can address bad office behavior by telling people when their actions are not okay with you. Calmly and professionally call out the patronizing person without without making a scene or being dramatic by pointedly yet politely saying, “Gee, that comment sounded a bit condescending to me. Mind dropping the attitude?” Hopefully, he takes you up on the do-over opportunity.

If you’re feeling defensive and as though you might react emotionally, the best thing might be to walk away and not deal with this person right now. You can say something like, “When you’re ready to speak to me in a less condescending tone, I’ll be at my desk.” This gives you a chance to breathe, decompress, and gather your thoughts before speaking to this person again.

3. Neutralize Your Body Language

Assuming that the annoying co-worker is trying to provoke you, it’s best to respond as neutrally as possible. That means maintaining positive body language and non-hostile expressions. Avoid pointing fingers, rolling your eyes, invading the person’s personal space, and crossing your arms. Those are signals that tell her she nailed it—if, in fact, she was trying to piss you off.

Do your best to maintain a calm and neutral demeanor. Stand up straight, take up your space, don’t shrink back in offense, and hold your ground—both physically and mentally.


4. Ask for Clarification

Some colleagues may come from a different workplace culture or be accustomed to speaking to others in a certain way that they don’t recognize as being inappropriate. Your co-worker who asks if you understand the boss’ memo in a tone that you find reproachable? He may literally be clueless, completely unaware of how he’s offended you. If your co-worker has other recognizable good traits, and the occasional dip into this kind of rudeness is rare, you might want to focus on the context of what he’s saying and not the tone.

If you need to, ask for clarification. You could say something like, “I want to make sure we’re on the same page and what you’re saying now is throwing me off. I understand [what your co-worker’s being condescending about], is there anything else I’m missing?”

Depending on your comfort level with this colleague, you could consider letting him know how you (and possibly others) are perceiving the message based on tone of voice. He may appreciate the heads up.

Remember that other people’s behavior is always more about them than it is about you. An excerpt from Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, explains this idea well: “What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

4 Better Ways to Handle a Condescending Co-Worker Than Stooping to His Level | The Muse

Lea McLeod coaches people in their jobs when the going gets tough. Bad bosses. Challenging co-workers. Self-sabotage that keeps you working too long. She’s the founder of the Job Success Lab and author of the The Resume Coloring Book. Get started with her free 21 Days to Peace at Work e-series. Book one-on-one coaching sessions with Lea on The Muse’s Coach Connect. Image by Blueguy (Shutterstock).

Get Over the Stigma That Something’s Wrong With You Because You Want More Friends

Get Over the Stigma That Something's Wrong With You Because You Want More Friends

We all know that making new friends after college is incredibly tough, but The Wall Street Journal points out that we tend to make it harder on ourselves by thinking that it’s a bad thing to want to make more friends in the first place.


Once you’re done with college, your life tends to fluctuate in a variety of ways. You’re working more hours, friends are having kids, and you just generally grow apart from people you’ve known for years. A lot of people end up shedding a lot of friends because of this. There’s a certain helplessness of being an adult and realizing that you need friends, which is likely why it carries the stigma that it does, but speaking with the Wall Street Journal, clinical professor of psychiatry Irene S. Levine points out just how normal it is:

How do you make a friend now? Dr. Levine says the first step is to get over the stigma that something is wrong with you if you don’t have enough friends or are looking to make more. “As an adult, we think that everyone has their friends and we are the only ones seeking them,” she says. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Obviously, the actual act of meeting new people and making friends is a complicated one, but once you get over the stigma that there’s something wrong with you because you don’t have a ton of friends it becomes a lot easier. If you’re looking for a few more direct ideas on how to facilitate friendships when you meet new people, head over to The Wall Street Journal.

The Science of Making Friends | The Wall Street Journal

Photo by Christopher Matson.

Give Softer Criticism With the “What I Like…” Feedback Model

Give Softer Criticism With the "What I Like..." Feedback Model

Giving criticism isn’t easy, especially if the person you’re giving it to is sensitive. This approach lets you keep criticism in a positive light so your feedback comes across as constructive, not harsh.

You’ve probably heard of giving someone a “compliment sandwich” before, where you open with something positive, deliver your critical feedback, and then finish with something positive. It can work great sometimes, but if you’re dealing with someone who is extra sensitive, Caroline Webb, the author of How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life, suggests it’s better to work your way around the things that might trigger someone’s defenses. Webb recommends the “What I Like…” feedback model for those situations:

  1. Tell the other person: “What I like about this is . . .” Give meaningful, specific examples of what you like, and explain why you like them. Aim for as many concrete positive points as you can. Don’t rush.
  2. Then say: “What would make me like it even more is . . .”

You’re not just telling them “It’s great!” You’re explaining what specifically is great and why. Doing so will make the positive points stick out more in their mind so when you follow up with “What would make me like it even more is…” they don’t just raise their shields. This also makes your critique come across as an idea that they can use as a prompt for making their work better. You’re not saying that you don’t like something directly (even if that is the case), you’re making your point with finesse to avoid destroying their self-confidence.


Why Criticism Is So Tough To Swallow (And How To Make It Go Down Easier) | Fast Company

Photo by pamalamadag.

The Main Components Of a Scientifically Perfect Apology

The Main Components Of a Scientifically Perfect Apology

Simply saying “I’m sorry” isn’t always enough. A decent apology should hit on multiple aspects of your wrongdoing. According to a recent study, there are six components you need to cover if you want to craft the perfect apology, and some are more important than others.

The study, led by Roy Lewicki, professor emeritus of management and human resources at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, and published in the journal Negotiation and Conflict Management Research, suggests that the most effective apologies contain these six elements:

  1. Expression of regret
  2. Explanation of what went wrong
  3. Acknowledgment of responsibility
  4. Declaration of repentance
  5. Offer of repair
  6. Request for forgiveness

These elements aren’t too surprising (we’ve even talked about some of them before), but the study also suggests that some of these elements actually carry more weight than the others. According to Lewicki, the most important element of an effective apology is acknowledging your responsibility. If something is your fault, say that it is. The second most important element, says Lewicki, is your offer of repair. If you say that you want to fix things, and explain how, your apology will go a lot further. The least effective element was the request for forgiveness. If there’s one things you leave out of your apology, make it that.


An Exploration of the Structure of Effective Apologies | Negotiation and Conflict Management Research via Ohio State University

Photo by artethgray.

See Your Relationship History on Facebook in One Page

See Your Relationship History on Facebook in One Page

Ever want to view all the Facebook posts you and your significant other have both been tagged in or shared? There’s a hidden URL for that.

Go to https://www.facebook.com/us and the page will list all the posts both you and your partner have been mentioned in, including posts where others have tagged you both.

When you visit the page, it switches to something like https://www.facebook.com/friendship/mel…, so if you want to see a relationship history with a different person on Facebook, adjust the last part of the URL to the other person’s Facebook ID.

This tip comes to us via BetaNews, which shares other Facebook tricks you might not know about.

10 hidden Facebook features you should know about | BetaNews