Is flirting acceptable during business negotiations?
A new study suggests that flirtation may pay off for women at the bargaining table. (iStock)
Some women may bristle at the notion that they should flirt to get their way, but a new study suggests that the benefits often outweigh the risks for female negotiators.
Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and the London School of Economics examined so-called 'feminine charm' in four different experiments, which examined the costs and benefits of friendliness and flirtatiousness during negotiations.
The authors define feminine charm as an "impression management technique available to women that combines friendliness with flirtation."
Men and women face unique trade-offs between professional accomplishment and social rewards, they argue, particularly in male-dominated fields.
"Given that women are generally thought to be disadvantaged in the competitive negotiation domain, emphasizing warmth alone backfires by reiterating age-old stereotypes that women are not competitive," they write.
"Although an implicit association exists between stereotypically masculine traits and negotiating effectiveness, highlighting the value of stereotypically feminine traits can increase women's confidence and thereby improve their economic performance."
The researchers compared the social and economic consequences for women who charmed their opponents versus those who used more neutral interaction styles.
"Flirtatiousness signals a concern with self that predicts better economic terms for female negotiators, and friendliness signals a concern with others that predicts worse economic terms," they write.
The authors propose that flirting creates positive impressions that counter the social obstacles that female negotiators often face.
The study, which was published online Thursday, will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
If you're a woman, have you ever been advised to use your "feminine charm" to get your way?
Do you find such advice unpalatable or offensive? Why or why not?
Have you ever brought flirtation to the bargaining table? If so, were the results favourable?
(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' replies.)
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