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Viva!: How you can become a festive flirting sensation; You don't have to be a wall flower at parties as Lisa Salmon discovers.

SOME people are born flirts who effortlessly catch their target's eye across a crowded room,flutter their eyelashes and seduce with some witty repartee.

Christmas parties must be fun for them. For the rest of us,flirting is a tricky business -even with the aid of mistletoe and alcohol- laden festive cocktails.

But this year, there's noneed to blush helplessly and wilt like a wall flower when the object of your desires walks through the door.

With the aid of those seduction experts from the hit TV show Sex and the City -Carrie,Miranda,Samantha and Charlotte, who almost always get their man -you can become a festive flirting sensation.

Flirt coach Elizabeth Clark has compiled a top 10 of flirting tips by watching the show's Season 5, recently released on DVD.

Clark, who runs flirting courses for businesses as well as individuals, says: ``Flirting is something you can do with people of any age or sex.

``It used to have a bit of a cheesy stigma attached to it,but it's actually just a way of being more successful in how you communicate with people.''

And she stresses: ``It doesn't have to be sexual.''

She says there are three main steps involved in successful flirtation: see and be seen,including eye contact, smiling and eyebrow raising; the approach,including giving and taking compliments,but not necessarily involving cheesy chat-uplines; and mirroring body language, including leaningFlirt coach Elizabeth Clarktowards each other and touching. ``We're all born with flirting in us,'' says Clark,``it's just whether we choose to use these skills or not.

``Christmas is a big time for flirting because of all the parties,but it does go on all year,and it's important to remember that it's a two-way street.''

Kate Fox of the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford says that anthropological research has shown there is flirting of some kind in every culture in the world.

The author of a flirting guide for Martini,Fox says: ``Flirting is a basic instinct,part of human nature.

``If we didn't initiate contact and express interest in members of the opposite sex, we would not progress to reproduction,and the human species would become extinct.''

But if flirting is instinctive, why do we need tips?

Fox says it's because flirting is governed by a complex set of unwritten laws of etiquette,dictating where, when,and how we flirt.

``We only become aware of the rules when someone commits a breach of this etiquette -by flirting with the wrong person or at an inappropriate time or place,'' she says.

She says research shows that men find it particularly difficult to interpret the more subtle cues in women's body language,and tend to mistake friendliness for sexual interest.

And another problem is that flirting has, to some degree,acquired a bad name.

She adds: ``Some of us have become so worried about causing offence or sending the wrong signals that we are in danger of losing our natural talent for playful,harmless flirtation.''

nSex and the City Complete Season 5 DVD and video is available now.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 2, 2003
Words:515
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