What can ‘Kingsman’ teach us about picking up girls in clubs?


I was watching Kingsman at the cinema last night and alongside jumping out of aeroplanes, they also had a pick-up challenge. Can you believe it?! Interestingly the scene with three different characters competing for the same girl teaches us something about different techniques and their effectiveness in the pick-up.

So here’s what Kingsman can teach us about PUA…

Neg theory

The first candidate Rupert approaches a woman in a club and says “Is that your real eye colour?”. This is a traditional Neg opener. So we can think of this as the dinosaur of pick-up.

Deconstruction approach

It is such a dinosaur that the second candidate – Roxy – approaches and she deconstruct this idea to the lady they’re trying to pick up. “OMG aren’t you aware that’s just Neg Theory? He’s trying to use a negative complement to wear down your self-esteem and make you more invested in proving yourself to him”.

So what’s interesting about this mini-dynamic is it shows the evolution of pick-up and how those old-fashioned theories now not only look stupid but they don’t work. It’s no coincidence that this Neg theory line was assigned to a character who later in the movie is shown to have no moral fibre and no loyalty. Being in a mainstream Hollywood movie this clearly says to us DON’T BOTHER! The deconstruction approach works better!

Roxy is smarter when commenting on the present moment. For you guys that might come across as something like “Hey, I like how you’re not interested in the story I’m telling you.” or “Do you see that guy over there? I know he thinks he’s doing this but really it’s coming across this way”.

So if you comment on a live situation that’s happening in a way that’s still playful and fun, it’s better in terms of being a more original and interesting way to create conversation.

Powerful overload of the conversation

Now the last character Eggsy comes along. He is the star of the show so we know he’s going to say something cool. What he does is already on top of the complex dynamic of these other characters and he then breaks the frame.

What he does is, he walks up to the table where the target, Roxy and Rupert are and Eggsy comes over and says something like “The champagne is really bad here” and he smashes his glass down. So what he does is takes control of the dynamic in a completely different way by creating a large subject change or distraction. This is one of those powerful ways that you can exert social control. It’s kind of like interrupting someone and saying “Hey what’s over there?

A rapid subject change is disorientating to the person you’re speaking to and so whatever kind of frame is dominant in that point in time, this is a strong way to disrupt it. (By the way, you should always be suspicious of people who say this to you on the street because they might be trying to rob you!)

Kingsman and approach techniques

So just to recap, what Kingsman teaches us about pick-up and its evolution is that the tactics we use to persuade and influence others have evolved. There are things we should be aware of now such as:

Traditional Neg theory is so out of date that Hollywood movies are taking the piss out of it.

Deconstructing what’s happening at the moment is always a very, very powerful way to gain control of the interaction and create interesting conversation.

An even more powerful overload of the conversation is when someone successfully changes the train of the conversation completely.

So if you bear this in mind, think about where you should be investing your efforts in conversational theory.

Anyway, guys, I hope that helps.

Hayley Quinn

Hayley Quinn is an internationally recognised dating coach and founder of the UK’s largest dating coaching company. She has over 2 Million views on her TED talk and over 100,000 YouTube subscribers.

She is the spokesperson for Match, the biggest online dating platform in the world. She has been featured on BBC1, Sky and Channel 4 and is a regular columnist for Cosmopolitan and a contributor to yahoo!style.

Her first fiction book “The Last First Date” has been published by Harper Collins and her non-fiction book “Do This Not That” (Simon & Schuster) is due for publication in early 2023.

Her goal is to bridge the gap with modern dating and help inspire people to learn to love dating.

Phone: +447517915854
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