Head to head: A touchy subject

Is office flirting normal and healthy, or potentially threatening and innapropriate? Flirting guru Peta Heskell takes on ex-model Judi James


"I saw an article saying flirtophobia was killing off office romance and that gave me the idea to run a workshop on flirting. Everyone is sexual but they deny it. Men have to deny it because they have been hounded by PC and women to some extent deny it because a lot of women are constantly fighting in this male-dominated world and feel that by showing their femininity or their sexuality they are going to: a) be taken the wrong way; or, b) be put down as silly women. It's a shame, as there's nothing wrong with showing someone that flirtatious side of us. We are a bit uptight about flirting in this country but you know we can change, we're all human beings. We can de-programme our culture.

The whole point is flirting's got to be fun. If you go out on the pull and think of it as a serious thing and get all hung up on whether people say yes or no, you will come across as desperate. The idea is to just go out and enjoy meeting people and the more you do that, when you do come across that special person, you'll be very relaxed and confident about just going up and chatting to them. When you see someone you should just make a move. People often say, `Oh I saw this bloke and he was really gorgeous,' but they don't look or let him know they fancy him and then before they know it the person has disappeared - and that's one more down, and then they say, `I can't find a man.'

I've said before that I'm on a mission to get everyone to go out and do it. I do it all the time. I know how effective it is and I know it's done a lot for me. It's also healthier for you, it activates your body's natural opiates and releases serotonin in your brain, which is basically your body's happy drugs. These drugs are natural, so flirting is more fun than drugs, it's cheaper, it doesn't harm you, and you're not letting opportunities pass you by."

Peta Heskell runs the Flirtation Workshop, 0181-788 8394


"I have known good flirts who have managed to maintain the right level of flirting with everyone they've dealt with and then it's been called charisma. But they are real one-off characters. The good flirts, I've found, flirt with everybody, they flirt with members of their own sex - it's almost a non-sexual act. But if somebody is flirting with you and you find them attractive then obviously the tendency is to go and see if you can turn it into something more serious, then it's up to whether the other person meant it as a courtship ritual or whether it is something they do to everybody and that's where it all begins to go a little bit wrong.

I think the thing with flirting, particularly in a business context, is that we always know what we mean by flirting - but other people don't always receive the same signals. People can get angry or find themselves in situations where they are making a pass and the other person is saying, `I gave them no lead on to that whatsoever.' I've had people come to me and say, `Well it was obvious she was up for it,' and then he or she has said, `No, no, no - I was only flirting, I do that with everybody.'

Most people misread body language - that is the essence of the training I do. The thing to remember is, you might be enjoying yourself - but is the other person? Flirting can slide quickly down the scale from being flattering to being almost threatening. I had somebody once who said, `I knew that you fancied me because you kept pulling your wedding ring on and off your finger,' and in fact all I'd got was ring rash. Good flirts can read body language and vocal signals and not overstep the mark. But if you're not good at doing that then maybe you're better off not doing it at all."

Judi James, former model, and novelist, is author of `Sex at Work: A Survival Guide', published by the Industrial Society, pounds 9.99

Interviews by Kate Mikhail

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

    £45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

    Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power