Negotiation secrets between men and women in business

Monika Tutterová

Management Coach, Alumni Class of 2003

As we know, business is mostly about negotiation. Every day we negotiate our opinions and sell our ideas to our bosses and colleagues, talk about our opinions, and discuss our goals, finding common ground in order to grow.

Men and women meet every day, each using their own communication styles to negotiate. But do they understand each other? Do they even listen?

"Researchers have suggested that men and women approach negotiation differently because they view the relational aspects of the negotiation differently (Barron)." 

Let’s have a look at the similarities and differences. 

Men 

Men negotiate with the following characteristics: competitive, manipulative, rational, logical, dominant, using objective facts, authoritative. Men speak using more direct language, and more focused, fast and effective talk. And they act self-confidently, can talk for a longer time than women, and disrupt more. Compared to women, men are less concerned with other people's thoughts about them.                                         

Men don't care as much about maintaining lasting relationships once the negotiations are over. In general, men are very forgiving of their acquaintances; a man may pick a fight one day and be that man’s best friend the next, but most women can’t let hard feelings go as easily. Men have an advantage over women because they can go into negotiations without worrying how the other person may feel. 

"Men are better equipped to deal with the rough-and-tumble nature of negotiations (Gotbaum, 129)." 

Men have a greater sense of pride and ego, and as a result they don't believe that they should be the ones who have to back down when there is something that they want. They demand answers to their questions, and the information that they believe they are entitled to know. Men also want to make sure that people know what their ideas are, and they will try to get as many people as possible to agree with them. 

Women 

Women are most likely to be willing, helpful, emotional, intuitive, rather passive, and more focused on maintaining good relationships. They tend to be submissive, and have better listening skills. When women speak they have the tendency to go into details and using words such as “you know…” to pass the conversation to others. They are more perceptive of non-verbal cues and tend not to take risks

In a negotiation, women tend to ask more questions and do more one-to-one talking although "women discuss what is directly related to what each side wants introducing information into negotiations helps expand the understanding of the goals on both sides" (Babcock, 2003). This is good for building strong relationships before the big negotiations start. Men will wait until negotiations are at a stalemate before going back to relationship-building and trying to understand what both sides need. Conversely, women tend to prioritize making a 'fair' deal, making both parties happy and maintaining a relationship, and "[they] value being sensitive and maintaining good relationships, i.e. attachment over achievement" (Tucker-Ladd). 

Women tend to overvalue relationships and under-value themselves in the workplace. 

Listening to what the other side wants and hearing them the first time will allow the negotiation process to go faster. 

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