Nevertheless, it's a fascinating subject indeed. Winking is one of those stereotypical--if not downright archetypal--flirting behaviors.
Yet, it's also the one that almost instantaneously causes us to roll our eyes when we think about actually DOING it, right?
After all, for most of us our immediate reaction is that going around winking at women is pretty lame.
Well, having thought about this, I'm convinced that's because we've been jaded by show business, where the only winks we seem to remember--at least in a mixed gender context--are the lame ones.
Chevy Chase's awkward chance meeting with Christie Brinkley in Vacation comes to mind, as do old reruns of the Benny Hill Show.
Hilarious...but not in a flattering way.
So what's up with that? If winking at women is so friggin' silly, how can it remain such an enduring symbol of male/female flirtation?
Here's what I think. I think most of us completely miss the subtlety of what winking REALLY conveys.
Here's a hint. It's not (or at least shouldn't be) about, "I'm attracted to you...let's get down and boogie."
In reality, it's more accurate to say that a wink is the international symbol for "I have a secret...and it involves YOU".
Put that one to the test any time you see someone wink at someone else from now on. When you note a well-placed wink, that's almost always what it's subcommunicating.
But here's the thing.
When it comes to flirting in particular, when you haven't earned attraction yet it's indeed lame to wink at a woman under the presumption that she would care what your "secret" is.
But when you have the confidence to know you are desirable, it can work. The key is to remember that the wink is meant to create INTRIGUE, not attraction.
The wink has to be in the presence of attraction in order to be meaningful, sort of like photosynthesis in the plant world can only happen in the presence of sunlight.
This is a crucial distinction that absolutely MUST be understood. But when you DO understand it, all the doors to highly effective winking flirtation are suddenly flung open for you.
I have examples for you forthcoming, but first I have a confession to make.
I didn't simply dream up the idea of writing about winking today on my own.
As is often the case, the topic was inspired by talking to one of YOU during a coaching call.
Specifically, the discussion was about "winking" in the context of online dating.
I now find it more interesting than ever that Match.com adopted the term "winking" to refer to that quick-hit attention giving mechanism of theirs that allows you to forego the effort of writing a full-on e-mail to someone.
"Winking" is the quintessentially perfect paradigm for that.
If someone's profile is inherently attractive, the wink intrigues you. And sure enough, plenty of us get all hot and bothered when an attractive woman "winks" at us online.
Her "secret" is that she has noticed you, and you should write her to see what happens.
And see? If SHE has the confidence ahead of time to believe you'll find her profile attractive--and sure enough you do--then the wink WORKS. You'll waste no time in writing her back.
But on the other hand, if you're someone who's expected to demonstrate some "Big Four" traits, like making a woman feel safe in your presence and showing that you know how to take initiative, the online dating wink is a deal breaker.
Therefore, in case it's not already abundantly clear, almost all winks by men to women online are deal breaker in the eyes of women. They really wish you'd have the stones to write a real e-mail.
In the real world, though? Rest assured, not all of us have to come off like Clark Griswold. At least not necessarily.
Think about it. All of those dorky, awkward Hollywood winks usually are from guys who haven't actually met the woman they're winking at yet.
All you really need is to know the right context for when winking can hold some very real power.
And no, that's NOT going to be when you first notice a woman from across the room.
But once you've begun to interact with a woman and the attraction is created, THEN there are some golden winks that can really convey the right message...at precisely the right time.
Here are five examples off the top of my head:
1) The "I've Got It Under Control" Wink
Let's say you're talking to a woman, and perhaps there are other people around also.
Suddenly, something minor comes up that requires immediate attention. It could be anything, really. Use your imagination.
You turn to the woman and flash her a quick wink, accompanied by the kind of facial expression you'd give someone as if to say, "Yeah, that's reasonable enough."
She'll instinctively sense that you're about to take care of what needs to be dealt with, and that you're going to do it effectively.
The "secret" between you and her in this context is that you're going to handle this right now without the matter being up for discussion between you and perhaps some other dude who might step in.
This gives women butterflies.
2) The "I've Just Got Someone's Back And I'm Going To Keep Suave About It" Wink
You can think of this particular wink as the "post-event" version of the one I described above.
When you've just taken care of matters--especially as a direct favor to someone else on the spot--and the world is back to normal thanks to your deft response, it's obviously NOT a good idea to crow loudly about how great you are for being such a hero.
Everyone will already have that figured out, and you should be wise enough to recognize it.
So at that point you subtly gaze over at the hottest woman in the room (preferably the one you arrived with or plan to leave with, if applicable) and wink at her. The look on your face should say, "Yeah, that's right...no big deal".
The subtle conveyance here is that everything is expected to return to normal now.
But the "secret" you've just conveyed to the woman you winked at is that having gotten the job done is a perfectly normal and expected circumstance, so there's no need to thank you.
But she's going to think you're amazing. Nice.
3) The "We're The Only Two People Who Get It" Wink
Let's say you're in a business meeting with a woman whom you're particularly attracted to.
One of the reasons you're attracted to her (and probably her to you as well) is because you naturally "get" each other. There's a very real chemistry between the two of you.
Now, let's say someone comes up with an idea or an issue that either you or her has some particular input on.
And let's say that everyone in the room thinks your input is fantastic, but you and she both know that your lives are about to get a little bit easier because the group agreed with what you said....but they don't exactly need to know that.
You casually glance over to your female friend and wink...with a look that ever so slightly conveys "Yep...bingo. It's in the bag."
It can be flat-out powerful to wink in this way any time either you OR she says something that has hidden depth that only she could understand, be it in the form of a potential benefit, consequence, etc.
Sometimes, if you believe it's especially important that someone else in the room gets the subtle undercurrent of what you're saying, you may even wish to acknowledge that person and wink WHILE SAYING IT...just to make sure.
That particular variation on this wink is especially common during meetings that involve negotiation between two sides. But from a male/female perspective here, it's much more fun to flash the wink after the fact.
Don't be surprised if she giggles under her breath when you do so, although she really should be better at keeping her composure than that.
But hey, maybe she won't be able to help herself.
4) The "I Approve" Wink
A subtle variation of what we're talking about here could be called The "There You Go" Wink.
Let's say a woman has asked for your help with something, as women often do. You explain it to her, and suddenly the light bulb goes off.
All you have to do is nod...and wink.
You haven't made a big deal out of helping her, and you've subtly made it clear that you are proud of her for understanding.
You've just given approval without gushing approval. How killer is that?
5) The "Here's Looking At You, Kid" Wink
Man, you've just got to love Bogey. He wasn't particularly handsome, but he was smooth as silk when necessary.
Leave it to him to be the inspiration for this wink.
When you say goodnight to a woman (or leave her presence anytime, really), you flash this wink right after saying farewell to her, thereby communicating that you like her, will miss her, and would like to see her again.
Importantly, you also subcommunicate in a sort of supernatural way that the "secret" is safe with you that she actually likes YOU and can't wait to see YOU again also.
Compare this non-verbal masterpiece with any and every form of ridiculous utterance of, "Uh...I had a nice time", "Can I see you again?" and/or (God forbid) "So...did you have fun? Do you like me?"
She knows you'll call her back. And she likes that about you.
6) The "Wink Of Appreciation"
This is a non-verbal way of saying, "Hey, thank you." It's best used in very casual circumstances best served with brevity and/or silence, or when the person you'd like to thank is across the room or otherwise out of earshot.
This wink might be accompanied by the quick nod and the "sure, thing... sounds good" type of facial expression.
By now you're smart enough to have figured out that many of the scenarios I've shared can be useful with just about anyone you know and interact with, not only women.
Winking really is for cool guys, not just dorks.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!