The Science of Flirting: Being a H.O.T. A.P.E. by Jean Smith at TEDxLSHTM (Transcript)

Watch and read the full transcript of flirt interpreter Jean Smith’s TEDx Talk: The Science of Flirting: Being a H.O.T. A.P.E. at TEDxLSHTM conference. This event occurred on September 15, 2015.


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Jean Smith – Flirt Interpreter

Let me ask you something. Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve asked yourself the following question: is this person — is this person flirting with me?

Picture the scene. You’re at a friend’s party. You sashay into the kitchen, because well, we all know that’s where the fun is. And you see an attractive stranger, getting a drink refill from a box of wine. Your friend’s a student. And so you get a drink refill and you say something hilarious to the attractive stranger. Attractive stranger laughs. Good for you. And then for the next few minutes there’s some eye contact, more talking. But then after a few minutes you start thinking is this person flirting with me? Sound familiar, anyone?

See the person sitting next to you, it’s happened to them. The person in front of you, it’s happened to them. You see this is a universal conundrum. But no more! Because in the next 10 minutes I’m going to tell you the signs of flirting and never again will you wonder: is this person flirting with me?

I’m Jean Smith. I’m a social anthropologist who studies flirting, a flirtologist, if you will. Now as a flirtologist, I do research, I write books, I give talks. And I work with clients, both private and corporate, all with the goal of helping people to become better flirts.

So I can see some of you sitting there, you’re thinking: really? Is this necessary? I mean teaching people how to flirt? Yes. Yes, it is. I’ve been doing this for over a decade. And if the question: is this person flirting with me was popular then. It’s now everyone wants to take it to prom popular, because over the last decade the way that we flirt has changed dramatically. People are relying more and more on digital ways of communicating. But let’s face it, an emoji with its tongue sticking out, it’s only going to get you so far. At some point you’re going to have to meet in person. Unless of course you’re Japanese male, and in that case you could go on to marry your video game girlfriend Rinko.

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So it’s part of my quest to help people become better flirts. I did research. I went to the cities of London, New York, Paris and Stockholm and I researched the flirting behavior of its inhabitants. And I found there were six things that they all had in common. Six ways that they could signal they were flirting and understood when someone was flirting with them. And I teach this as H.O.T. A.P.E. It’s the six signs — it’s an acronym for the six signs of flirting.

So what if I were to say to you: you must be a parking ticket, because you’ve got fine written all over you. Would you laugh? Well, ‘H’ is for humor. Raise your hand if you thought my joke was funny. Go ahead, don’t be shy. OK, everyone with their hands up, I would totally date you. Well, if my husband weren’t such a control freak. But anyway if you didn’t raise your hands, it’s not a good match. It’s just not going to work between us. But it’s me, not you. But this is a good thing because HOTAPE-ing people it takes time.

Does anyone here like reading a good novel, watching an interesting TED talk? Does anyone here like test cricket? These things also take time, especially test cricket, five days. And this is where people often get it wrong because they want to attract everybody. But no, you just want to attract those people who match with you. And that’s why humor, specifically a shared sense of humor is really important for helping you to differentiate between your potential HOT-APEs and squirrel monkeys. I mean, yeah, they’re cute. I’m sure they have a great personality. But at the end of the day it’s a squirrel monkey. It’s no HOT-APE.

So ‘O’ is for open body language. Three things to remember. Number one, don’t do this. I know some of you are guilty of this. I’ve heard it all before, Oh, but I’m cold or this is comfortable. OK, whiny voice aside in which instance do you want to HOT-APE me more like this or like this, right? Not HOTAPE. HOT-APE.

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Number two: make sure your shoulders are facing the person. So not HOT-APE, not HOT-APE, still not HOT-APE. HOT-APE. Not HOT-APE. HOT-APE.

Now the third, this is the most important and I’m only telling you guys. This is a really good one. To see if someone’s interested, look at the direction in which their feet are pointing. So if their feet are pointing at you, good sign. If they’re kind of out to the side, it means they’re planning their escape route. The further away our limbs are from our brain, the harder it is for us to control them. So Shakira, I know you say: the hips don’t lie but the flirtologist is here to say the feet don’t lie.

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