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December 15, 1989 - Image 115

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-12-15

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Illustrations by Wangdon Lee © 1989.

Getting To Know You


Special to The Jewish News


veryone flirts. Young
children, grandparents
and all ages in between
— it's something that we all
do. It's how we do it that can
be a problem.
Dr. Ronald Fenton, a Farm-
ington Hills psychologist who
presents workshops in how to
make effective social contacts,
defines flirting as "a verbal or
non-verbal gesture people use
to attract attention to
themselves and to get to
know someone?'
For singles trying to meet
others, it is one of the most
important skills needed.
"A lot of people are afraid to
flirt because they are afraid of
rejection or criticism;' Fenton
says. "What they need to do
is to take stock of themselves.
What do they really want —
a casual or serious relation-
ship? A lot of people don't do
that, and they are confused
and don't have a method to

There are some basic ingre-
dients necessary for suc-
cessful flirting, Fenton says.
Some are so obvious that peo-
ple tend to overlook them. For
example, the first thing to do
when trying to connect with
another person is to always
smile and tell them your
"Share your name and get
the other person's name and
use it," Fenton explains. Peo-
ple like to hear their name.
It's an icebreaker that puts
people at ease!'
Other tips from Fenton in-
clude being a good listener,
giving genuine compliments
and recognition (people usual-
ly know when you're putting
them on), not arguing (a tur-
noff when you're trying to
establish rapport), being
respectful of the other per-
son's views and opinions and
appearing self-confident and
full of self-esteem.
It's that last one in which
people tend to run into trou-
ble. Joyce Slaim, a
psychologist at Southfield

Flirting, say
is practiced
widely — but
not too well, in
many cases.

Mental Health Associates,
says that a number of her pa-
tients lack the self-confidence
necessary to meet others.
"Flirting entails being com-
fortable enough to relate to
other people;' Slaim explains.
"Most people would know
naturally how to flirt if they
weren't so self-conscious."
"Even if you don't feel con-

fident, you should look like
you are;' Fenton says. "Anx-
iety and self-doubt are not
very appealing. My
philosophy is 'fake it till you
make it! Start with small suc-
cesses — eventually, you'll get
One way to appear confi-
dent is to dress correctly.
"How you present yourself,
your grooming and clothing
are very important," Fenton
says. "You want to put your
best foot forward. Physical ap-
pearance, while not the most
important factor, can be a real
turnoff. If you look good,
presentable and appealing,
you'll reduce the number of
The choice of clothing can
also lead to how people res-
pond to you. What you wear
can signal the kind of rela-
tionship for which you are
looking, says Slaim.

"What you wear can depend
on what you want!" she ex-
plains. "For example, if a
woman would like to meet a
man whom she would like to

really get to know, she might
try to get to know him and
connect, but also be cautious
and not too intimate.
"If the same woman was
wearing low-cut, too-tight or
seductive clothes, it might
mean she was looking to meet
someone for the evening, and
thus is not so cautious?'
But there is such a thing as
being too confident and corn-
ing on too strong, Fenton says.
He describes an invisible
"stranger-barrier" between
two people who don't know
each other. It's important not
to cross this barrier too soon.
"People who are unskilled
at flirting sometimes go too
fast!" Fenton explains. "They
become intrusive and ask too
many personal questions. For
example, it's not a good idea
to ask someone how much
money they make after you've
known them for half an hour!'
Another key part of flirting
is being able to pick up on the
cues sent to you by the other
person. Flirting should be a
reciprocal contact in which



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