"Don't think too much," he says. "I can be paralyzed by, say, the fact that I don't have the perfect opening line. ... Tracey preaches not thinking at that moment. You've just got to plunge in and say something."
To be honest, I wasn't sure Becky had the mustard to talk to a single guy in the bar, and I was starting to feel nervous for her. But when she emerged from the restroom, she'd taken her long dark hair out of her ponytail, a definite step in the sexy direction. And with Steinberg at her side goading her, she suddenly picked a target and just went for it. (This was actually Becky's second flirting party, so she knew the drill.)
"Are you all here for a group function?" she asked a man in his 40s who took an instant liking to her. They chatted for a while until Becky noticed he was wearing a wedding ring and gently extracted herself from the situation.
Later, as Becky made her way to the bar, flashing a warm smile was all it took for a tall, handsome guy sipping a glass of red wine to ask her which sport she was watching (we were in a sports bar, because that's where you go when you're looking for bountiful testosterone).
The conversation that followed was promising. The handsome dude was from Nigeria, and Becky came up with all sorts of questions to keep things flowing. Unfortunately, one of those questions was "Do you have a green card?" which as Steinberg pointed out later, didn't exactly fall under the "light and breezy" category.
But it didn't matter. Nor did it matter that she'd be going home without a phone number or a date planned. Becky had achieved her goal; she'd put aside fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of being boring, fear of being too short, tall, old, young, whatever, and had broken the ice with complete strangers.
"I'm really proud of you," Steinberg said sincerely after a quick debrief. "You did really well tonight."
Becky looked exhausted but somewhat triumphant as she waved goodbye and headed for the subway.
Sure, flirting experts will tell you it's possible to go from having no flirting skills whatsoever to becoming a flirting genius. Greene says she's transformed people in 30 days. Steinberg contends that everyone has the ability to flirt; it's just a matter of accessing that ability and putting some muscle behind it.
Dora, a busy finance executive in her mid-40s, rated her flirting skills as one out of 10 before she started flexing her flirtimus to the maximus.
"It was not something that I thought was important in meeting single men in my age range," she said. "My thinking was if someone is interested they will speak to you. Not the case, as I have learned. Men need to know you are open, friendly and approachable.
"For me it was a six-month process of learning this new skill and putting it to work in my life. But once you learn, you realize how easy and fun it really is. You have nothing to lose and all to gain. I can walk into a restaurant, a bar, a dry cleaners, a coffee shop and easily strike up a conversation with a potential adorable single guy."
Scoff all you like at the idea of a dating coaches and the like. But at the end of the day, what they're offering -- for a fee, granted -- is getting you one, two or three steps closer to life's most potent and enduring resource: love.