The workplace is changing. And as the workplace becomes more accommodating to different business models, relationships are more important than ever. Suddenly, qualities which might have been a detriment to women (such as valuing relationships over outcomes) become increasingly important.
Of course, it’s still a man’s world, and that can place women at a disadvantage. But both men and women are beginning to see the benefits of women’s negotiating styles.
Here are some of the differences between how men and women negotiate, according to Women Don’t Ask (Babcock and Leschever, Princeton University Press):
- Men often view a negotiation session as a sport or a game. Women are more likely to view negotiation as an opportunity to collaborate.
- Men will compete in order to achieve the best income for themselves. Women will cooperate to achieve mutually beneficial incomes.
- Men seek to understand the other party’s point of view only after other techniques have failed. Women start negotiations by trying to understand the other party’s interests.
- Women are much more likely than men to share personal information about themselves during a negotiation.
- Women take a more long-term view of negotiation than men—they are less likely to view a single negotiation session as a one-time event. They also focus more on their relationship with the other person, which helps them succeed in the long term since these relationships can prove beneficial both to themselves and their businesses over time.
As Babcock and Leschever say:
"The influence of this [research about cooperative negotiation] has been so profound, and the behaviors it recommends dovetail so nicely with women’s strengths, that negotiation experts often joke that the goal of many negotiation courses today is to train people to negotiate like women."
So while it’s true that women in the world of work and business have many disadvantages, they also have some advantages that help them succeed. Women don’t always recognize their own talents in this area, but if they did, they’d feel a lot more confident about their own abilities to negotiate.