“Feminine charm” was one of the only power plays and negotiation tactics available to women for centuries, and has been portrayed in novels by Charlotte Brontë, Jane Austen, and George Eliot.
When former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright conceded to interviewer Bill Maher that she has used “charm” in challenging negotiations with heads of state, University of California, Berkeley’s Laura Kray and Alex Van Zant with Connson Locke of London School of Economics sought to define the component of “feminine charm” in negotiation situations.
Their investigation led to an operational definition of “feminine charm” as characterized by:
- Friendliness (concern for the other person) coupled with
- Flirtation (concern for self and self-presentation)
Like ingratiation, “the aim of feminine charm is to make an interaction partner feel good to gain compliance toward broader interaction goal,” according to Kray, Van Zant, and Locke.
They found that “feminine charm” (friendliness plus flirtation) created positive impressions that partially buffered the social penalties or “backlash” against negotiating, identified by Harvard’s Hannah Riley Bowles and her colleagues.
Women who were perceived as flirtatious achieved superior economic deals in their negotiations than women who were seen as friendly, validating suggestions by Stanford’s Deborah Gruenfeld and Carnegie Mellon’s Linda Babcock, that women achieve better negotiation outcomes when they combine power tactics with warmth, which may stop short of flirtation.
Kray, Van Zant and Locke concluded that their findings expose “a financial risk associated with female friendliness: Although it may facilitate the expansion of the proverbial negotiating pie and create positive impressions of female negotiators, the resulting division of resources may be unfavorable if she is perceived as ‘too nice’.”-*How do you mitigate the “financial risk associated with female friendliness”?
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