Women really CAN flirt their way to the top (but sorry guys, that strategy won't work for you too)
Women should negotiate in 'playful' way, study saysBeing friendly makes them warm and approachableFlirting is not about sexual advances but 'social charm'
00:55 GMT, 11 October 2012
If you’re negotiating a business deal, it may not seem an appropriate moment to act playfully.
But it seems a little flirting can help businesswomen get ahead.
Women should be ‘playful’ rather than ‘serious’ when negotiating, says a team of researchers from the Haas School of Business at the University of California and the London School of Economics.
Big flirt: Women who flirt, or exert their 'feminine charm', win more negotiations and are seen as more effective in the workplace than those who don't
Being friendly makes them seem warm and approachable, while striking a bargain means they continue to be seen as successful.
The researchers say that the approach
works when a women flirts with a man, but not the other way round.
Flirting is not about sexual advances but ‘social charm’, to show off
The study, published in the journal
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, split 100 men and women into
pairs and asked them to rate each other’s skills and manners in various
Women who were the most effective
negotiators were rated highly for social charm by men – but men rated
highly by women were not seen as similarly effective.
Professor Laura Kray, of Haas, said
flirting ‘translates into confidence, which is a strong predictor of
She added: 'Women are uniquely confronted with a tradeoff in terms of being
perceived as strong versus warm. Using feminine charm in negotiation is a
technique that combines both'.
Task: The study saw researchers ask 100 subjects to imagine they were selling a car worth $1,200 to a potential buyer named Sue (file picture)
The study, Feminine Charm: An Experimental Analysis of its Costs and Benefits in Negotiations, saw researchers ask 100 subjects to imagine they were selling a car worth $1,200 (750) to a potential buyer named Sue.
The subjects were divided into two groups, with two separate scenarios.
'The first group meets Sue, who shakes hands when she meets the seller, smiles, and says, “It's a pleasure to meet you,” and then 'What's your best price' in a serious tone,' writes the study.
'The second group reads an alternate
scenario in which Sue greets the seller by smiling warmly, looking the
seller up and down, touching the seller's arm, and saying, “You're even
more charming than over email,” followed by a playful wink and asking,
“What's your best price”'
'The key is to flirt with your own natural personality in mind'
found that men weren't as willing to negotiate with the serious Sue,'
however considered giving 'playful Sue' more than $100 (44) off the selling
price. Women on the other hand, were not affected by 'playful Sue'.
Dr Kray says flirting is not unprofessional 'if it remains playful and friendly.'
She explained: 'The key is to flirt with your own natural personality in mind. Be authentic. Have fun. That will translate into confidence, which is a strong predictor of negotiation performance.'
American therapist Susan Rabin, who has written three books on flirting, agreed, telling Cosmopolitan magazine that 'power flirting' could be used to get on at work or impress friends as well as attract men.
She said: 'The Power Flirt is genuinely charming, which is why she has so many friends and even more often gets the results she's after'.
Catherine Hakim, a sociologist at the London School of Economics, who has written a book called Honey Money, theorises that both men and women have, what she calls, 'erotic capital' which can be exploited for success.
She writes: 'Patriarchal ideologies have systematically trivialised women's erotic capital to discourage women from capitalising on it – at men's expense.
'Unfortunately, radical feminists today reinforce patriarchal 'moral' objections to the deployment of erotic capital… Why not champion femininity rather than abolish it Why does no one encourage women to exploit men whenever they can'