Characteristics of Negotiation Styles: Men, Women, and Status at the Bargaining Table

Your best negotiation tactics take these gender differences into account

By on / Leadership Skills

When it comes to different characteristics of negotiation styles, a growing body of research suggests that status consciousness varies depending on the gender of interested parties.

First, men tend to care more about status than women do. Using a university-sponsored fundraising campaign, researchers Bruno S. Frey and Stephan Meier of the University of Zurich examined how social-comparison information affected contribution rates.

  • Male students who learned that a high percentage of students had contributed to the campaign were more likely to make a contribution than were female students who received the same information.

If you aspire to be a great leader, not just a boss, start here: Download our FREE Special Report, Real Leaders Negotiate: Understanding the Difference between Leadership and Management, from Harvard Law School.


Gender Differences in Negotiation Styles

In the context of gender differences in negotiation, professors John Rizzo of Stony Brook University and Richard Zeckhauser of Harvard University asked a group of young physicians about their reference groups and salary aspirations.

  • Male physicians compared themselves to reference groups that earned higher salaries than the ones female physicians selected.
  • In addition, men’s salary reference points were more indicative than women’s of how much they earned later.
  • Finally, women tend to compare themselves to particular individuals whom they know, while men tend to assess themselves according to information about typical behavior.

For this reason, when negotiating, consider offering different social comparison information to men and women. In job negotiations, you might tell a male prospective hire that you’re offering him more than you’ll give others with his qualifications (assuming that is true).

When negotiating with a female prospect, you might be more specific:

“We recently interviewed someone similar to you, a Kellogg MBA with several years of consulting experience. To signal how much we want you to work for us, we’re offering you more than we offered her.”


If you aspire to be a great leader, not just a boss, start here: Download our FREE Special Report, Real Leaders Negotiate: Understanding the Difference between Leadership and Management, from Harvard Law School.


Related Leadership Skills Articles: New Car Negotiations: Are Women Better than Men? – Are women better bargainers for a car than men? What characteristics of a woman’s negotiation style makes her more likely to get a good deal on a car? In this article we describe the different approaches each gender takes to the negotiation table, and which negotiating method brings home the best deal.

Solutions for avoiding intercultural barriers – Overcoming cultural barriers in business negotiations is one of the hardest tasks a negotiator will undertake. How do negotiators communicate and bargain with counterparts from another language or cultural background? This article drawn from negotiation research presents some tips and negotiation advice for those negotiators grappling with overseas counterparts or counterparts from a different cultural background.

Negotiation Skills: Are You Really An Ethical Negotiator? – Ethics in negotiation is a hot topic in bargaining research. Are there universal rules that apply to all negotiations, or are ethics in negotiation changeable, adapting from one negotiation scenario to the next?

Negotiators – Guard Against Ethical Lapses – How to prevent yourself from engaging in unethical practices in negotiations as well as how to identify a deceptive counterpart at the bargaining table and overcome his unethical negotiation tactics.

Honor Your Fellow Negotiator – How to express gratitude and respect for your counterpart at the bargaining table in the hopes of achieving a win-win negotiated agreement and a viable bargaining relationship on into the future.

Originally published in 2013.

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