Researchers at the Harvard Business School report that body language often is more reliable than spoken words. While much of the body language that comes into play between men and women is instinctual, men can learn how to read female body language in flirting and make sure they interpret the signs correctly.
Consider the stance of the woman. If her feet or legs are pointing toward you, then she is most likely interested, according to mass communication scholar Callie Poole of Shepherd University. The shoulders also can be revealing. If she leans her shoulders forward when you speak, she is ready to flirt. By the same token, if she positions her feet toward the door, she is most likely getting ready to bolt. When she turns her shoulders away from you, even though she may continue speaking with you, she is not interested.
Watch her hands. Women touch their erogenous zones when they are very interested and are absolutely flirting with you. They will touch their lips and may apply lipstick when they know you are watching. When they touch their necks, they are feeling sexy, and if they rub their thigh as they cross and uncross their legs, they are sending flirtatious signals.
Get ready to respond when a woman touches you. Even if the touch seems accidental and lasts only a moment, touching is a communication sign that signals trust or aggressiveness, either of which means a woman is ready to move the communication closer, or at least to another level.
Look into her eyes for signs of flirting. A direct look that lasts longer than a few seconds can indicate interest. If the woman's pupils become dilated while you stare into her eyes, she may be getting aroused and want to see more of you. To avoid coming off as threatening, a woman may hold your gaze for a quick moment, but return for a second look to assure you of her interest. When that second look is accompanied by a smile, she is flirting with you.
Leave a space of about 4 feet between you and the woman as you approach her. Researchers at the Social Issues Research Center report that about 4 feet is an acceptable social distance to maintain. When the woman crosses that threshold and closes the space between you, then you can be assured that she is flirting with you.
When a woman mimics your own body language, whether it's how you hold your arms or if you tilt your head, she is signaling that she feels a rapport with you and is comfortable flirting with you.
Be careful about misinterpreting when a woman is flirting with you. If you're unsure of the signals, consider the setting, recommend researchers at the Social Issues Research Center. For example, the funeral of a woman's husband is an inappropriate setting for flirting--so don't interpret the widow's need for solace as flirting.