Women May Undermine Salary Negotiations with Excessive Gratitude

Andreas Leibbrandt

Candid self-disclosure hurt women’s salary negotiation outcomes when they disclosed that a salary that exceeded their expectations in a study by Monash University’s Andreas Leibbrandt and John A. List of the University of Chicago.

John List

John List

Some women applying for administrative assistant jobs were told that the wages were “negotiable,” and these women negotiated higher pay by a ratio of more than 3 to 1.
This result echoes previous findings tht women frequently do not negotiate unless given explicit permission.
However, women achieved higher salaries at about the same rate as men when invited to negotiate.

Leibbrandt and List tested this finding by not mentioning negotiation to the remaining participants.
Participants in this group typically provided “too much information” by saying that they were willing to work for a lower hourly rate.

Edward E. Jones

Edward E. Jones

Though this approach likely leads to lower salary, it could be considered strategic ingratiation.
This negotiation tactic can take several forms, according to Duke University’s Edward E. Jones:

-Self-presentation: Self-enhancement or “one-down” humility, providing favors or gifts,

-Flattery: “Other-enhancement” by sharing credible positive comments,

-Agreement: Opinion-conformity and matching non-verbal behavior.

The ingratiator’s intent may be to enhance the future working relationship, but could lead the negotiation partner to question the applicant’s judgment and confidence.
This maneuver may delay salary increases because the candidate expresses satisfaction with the original offer.

Steven H. Appelbaum

Steven H. Appelbaum

In contrast, “strategic ingratiation” resulted in promotion or pay increase, in a study by Concordia University’s Steven H. Appelbaum and Brent Hughes.

They found that this may have been influenced by situational and individual factors including:

  • Machiavellianism,
  • Locus of control,
  • Work task uniqueness.
Jeffrey Flory

Jeffrey Flory

Another of Leibbrandt and List’s randomized field studies, collaborating with Concordia colleague Jeffrey Flory, men did not wait for permission to negotiate when no statement was made about salary discussions.

In fact, male participants said they prefer ambiguous salary negotiation norms or “competitive work settings”  in which salary negotiation was typically expected.

Leibbrandt, List, and Flory concluded that women accept “competitive” workplaces when “the job task is female-oriented” and the local labor market leaves few alternatives.

Women who seek higher salaries benefit from proposing their “aspirational salaries” rather than waiting for permission to negotiate.
Women negotiators can achieve better outcomes when they offer moderate expressions of gratitude and avoid revealing their “reserve” salary figure.

-*In what work situations have you benefitted from applying ‘strategic ingratiation’?

-*To what extent have expressions of gratitude in negotiation undermined bargaining outcomes?


©Kathryn Welds


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