Photo: johncarlscott via Flickr
How are “Mad Men”‘s Joan Holloway and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright alike?You might not think they have much in common. But, according to a new study, these women both successfully use feminine charm to get what they want.
The research, lead by Dr. Laura Kray, provides the first-ever academic look at the notion of feminine charm, and its potential economic benefits. Striking the right balance between friendliness and flirtation may be a woman’s secret weapon for a successful negotiation.
The study found that employing the right technique can boost a woman’s chance of success in a negotiation—with either a man or another woman—by as much as one third. The research also found that a woman who uses feminine charm effectively can successfully bargain for roughly 20% off the price of a car.
So, is there a science to flirting? Dr. Kray would say yes.
“Feminine charm is a strategic behaviour aimed at making the person you are negotiating with feel good in order to get them to agree to your goals,” Dr. Kray told The Independent.
The most effective charm will balance warmth and friendliness with flattery and sexiness. Dr. Kray warns that appearing too friendly will hurt women because they can come across as pushovers and people-pleasers, rather than powerful career women.
But too much feminine charm also has its downside. The study found that women who overtly flirt to get ahead are viewed as less trustworthy and authentic by their co-workers.
So should women employ feminine charm to get what they want? Is it fair?
Well, the research shows there is an evolutionary reason for this kind of skill. Women have to engage in flirtatious behaviour to disguise the “unappealing” masculine qualities—like competitiveness and aggressiveness—that they need to be successful in a negotiation. Essentially, flirting helps you act like a man without appearing to do so.
Ironically, the most feminine behaviours–like flirtation and playfulness–may be the key for women to achieve parity with men in the workplace and close the pay gap. So, turn on the charm in your next negotiation and you may see a bigger figure on your paycheck.
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