“Feminine charm” was one of the only 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 compared with 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.
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