Negotiating Tip #17:
Women and Negotiating
We would hope that our society is gender-neutral, but the reality is different. Women negotiators have an extra burden to bear. An obvious problem is that our society encourages women to avoid conflict, and the very nature of negotiation is that the two sides disagree – meaning there is a conflict. That social attitude leads many women to shy away from asking for what they want.
Women are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, that is, they are penalized if they hang back but they are also stigmatized if they push forward. Carnegie Mellon University’s Linda Babcock, in her book “Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want,” sets out the research which shows that women face problems if they are seen as being forceful. And those problems come whether the person on the other side is a woman or a man.
She warns, “The style that a women uses to negotiate can backfire and can create backlash, but using a cooperative style can get you what you want and avoid the backlash.” A lot of this has to do with the approach; she writes, “Don’t be timid but use the right inflection and wording choices.” She urges women negotiators to be particularly attentive to body language of the other side.
An account of Babcock’s book, as well as other advice for women negotiators, is in A. C. Shilton, “Even Ace Salary Negotiators Can Hate Conflict,” New York Times, August 12, 2018, .