Not to nerd out on you or anything, but Captain Kirk has this great line in The Wrath of Khan where he tells Bones McCoy, “Galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young, Doctor.” Even though Valentine’s Day is upon us and Spring around the corner, I feel much the same about flirting. Now fifty-something with families, most of my colleagues and I are focused on patient care, quality, and getting home in time for dinner. How soon we forget being a flirty-something.
But as Psychology Today reports -- not to go all Mr. Spock / Sheldon on you -- there are reasons to flirt other than mating:
- Fun - we sometimes flirt just because it’s playful or fun.
- Instrumental - we can flirt to achieve a goal e.g. getting someone to cover your shift.
- Esteem - often, flirting (and being flirted with) is flattering and make us feel good about ourselves.
If all behavior is goal-oriented, then logically flirting would be a behavior used to achieve goals other than romance. According to the above, the most frequent motive is relational -- a desire to alter the closeness of a dating or romantic relationship -- but flirting also happens without physical or sexual attraction.
In other words, we’re all capable of flirting with the boss or a coworker to get what we want. We all have a sense of when flirting crosses the line, becomes distracting, or is unethically used to achieve a goal. At my age, I don’t really see or notice it, and I suspect the same is true of most colleagues.
Although... Not too long ago I visited a bakery to order a dozen of something, and the clerk, a pleasant woman with salt and pepper hair, followed me for a minute. She kept blinking, staring and smiling. I left the bakery, wondering if she had something in her eye or had just had some kind of medical procedure, and laughed aloud when I realized, “Ohhh... she was flirting.”
We should all be prepared for the flirty-somethings graduating and working in our laboratories. Tis the season.
NEXT: Project or Just More Work?