Engendering Negotiations

Published: Jul 30 , 2015
Author: Sam Macbeth

Although news of a pay differential between men and women doing the same or similar jobs is nothing new,  recent studies suggest that even when women are on the employer’s side of a negotiation, men can feel more threatened by a female boss, and tend to negotiate using more extreme positions.

In one survey, male and female college students at a U.S. university were asked to negotiate their salary at a new job in a computer exercise with a male or female hiring manager. Once they had, the participants were asked to guess words that appeared on a computer for a fraction of a second. Those who selected words such as "fear" or "risk" were judged to feel more threatened.

The men who were negotiating with a woman as their manager acted more threatened. As such, they asked for more money ($49,400 average) as opposed to less when asking from a male manager ($42,870 average).

Women negotiated for a lower salary overall ($41,346 average) - it didn’t matter whether they were asking a man or a woman.

Whist I’m sure that these results can be interpreted and discussed at length the interesting point for me is how much (or little) time people had to respond.

I suspect the answer was not much. In real life negotiations this can limit creativity and with immediate emotional responses - things we say and do in the heat of the moment, may limit future flexibility – possibly at a crucial point in the negotiation.

Next time you’re negotiating a potentially emotive issue (with a man, woman or group), if you are being asked for a response, it may be better to take a break and reflect first; can you sensibly support the position you’re about to take up? If you’re asking for the response, it may be better to give the other side some thinking time beforehand - you may get a more considered, realistic response from them.

Sam Macbeth


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Sam Macbeth
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It's All in the Timing

Tommy Cooper was one of the funniest comedians ever. How do I know? Well partly because he has 13 of the best jokes in the top 50 gags of all time. A personal favourite being, “heard the one about two aerials meeting on a roof, falling in love, and getting married? The ceremony was rubbish but the reception was brilliant”. Telling a good joke is not just about the content. It is also in the timing of the delivery. The same could also be said about negotiation. Picking your time to enter into a negotiation can have a significant impact on its progression and your outcome.

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