“Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of ‘Silent Messages, conducted several studies on nonverbal communication. He found that 7% of any message is conveyed through words, 38% through certain vocal elements, and 55% through nonverbal elements (facial expressions, gestures, posture, etc.) ~ The Nonverbal Group
Studying human behavior is a complicated endeavor. It’s complicated because, well, we’re complicated.
The human brain is considered by many scientists to be “the most complex structure in the known universe.” Containing billions of cells and an immeasurable number of connections, there’s a reason why it’s taken some of history’s most brilliant minds hundreds of years to explain anything about the 3-pound organ.
We now know that the mind-body connection is a real thing. The interactivity between brain, mind, and body cannot be separated any more than a computer’s mouse, keyboard, or monitor. We simply couldn’t function.
What about body language?
More specifically, what about nonverbal communication? You’ve probably heard the old axiom “93% of all communication is nonverbal.”
Given what we’ve covered so far about the brain, do you see a potential problem with this number? Trying to measure the immeasurable is pointless. More critically, these percentages are pointless!
What is important to understand – and can be stated with certainty – is that most human communication is non-verbal. The Nonverbal Group, an independent academic and research group that focuses on nonverbal communication, says that non-verbal communication, including body language, is the most crucial aspect of communication.
What’s this got to do with flirting?
If you really want to know whether or not someone is attracted to you, understanding the nuances of human behavior – or at least recognizing that they exist – is invaluable.
Here’s an example: a sweet guy or gal often walks by your desk and smiles at you. Does this mean they are attracted? Maybe; or maybe they are just a nice person.
We must investigate. Further, we must have a basic understanding of how the brain and body work together; hence, the quick sociology lesson above!
Signs of flirting
In keeping with the theme of the introduction, we’re going to throw some science at you. Scientific evidence, while not infallible, is certainly more trustworthy than the “Oh my…Did you see that?!? She SMILED at me, bro! I’m making my move!”
“Good luck man!” (You’ll need it.)
Researchers from the University of Kansas found five main types of flirting: physical, playful, polite, sincere, and traditional. Interestingly, there were no significant gender differences in any of the five types. Women, however, did score higher on all styles besides playful.
Your intuition, understanding of human behavior, and methods of flirting – yes, flirting (!) – may just help someone find the person of their dreams.
Here are the five types of flirting (and some potential signs someone is flirting with you)
As the name suggests, physical flirting is all about contact. It’s also the type of flirting most popular among women. According to Jeffrey Hall, the study’s lead author, they’re the kind most likely to go alone to a bar or club to find a possible mate.
Potential signs: Touching/rubbing of the arm, sitting or standing close in proximity, leaning in during a conversation.
Playful flirts see the act of flirting as something of a game, as harmless fun. They kind of throw caution to the wind and just display interest – and often to multiple people. Men and women use playful flirting at about the same rate. Extroverts, understandably, are more comfortable with this “go with the flow” type of approach.
Potential signs: Physical touch, inattentiveness, darting in/out of the conversation.
Polite flirting entails a mix of compliments, niceties, and standoffish behavior. Introverts dominate this group, while it ranks fourth of five among extroverts. Polite teasers also ensure the use of proper manners and decorum. Unless you happen to stoke a polite flirt’s interests or share the polite flirting traits, it’ll probably be an uneventful meetup!
Potential signs: Shyness followed by sudden attentiveness, various social niceties, moves closer as the conversation progresses, increasing openness in body and conversation.
Sincere flirts ‘Strongly Agree’ with the statement “Showing sincere interest is the best way to let someone know you are interested in them.” They take a more serious approach to flirting than physical and playful teases, and are a bit more outgoing in their approach than the polite type. If they like you, you’ll know; if they don’t, you’ll know.
Potential signs: Strong eye contact, active listening, sudden playfulness.
Traditional flirts are the most likely to agree with the statement “Men should make the first move.” If you’re going on a first date with a traditionalist, you’re probably not going to a hip bar or club. Traditional flirts, as with the sincere type, believe firmly in getting to know someone and getting to the point.
Potential signs: Serious attitude, good eye contact, “accidental touching,” respectful of boundaries
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