Women Are Better Negotiators, Says Tel Aviv U.

Last Updated Jun 27, 2008 2:28 PM EDT

  • Women Are Better Negotiators, Study FindsThe Find: With their ability to foster cooperation and willingness to make a generous offer, women are sometimes more able to bring negotiations to a successful conclusion that their male colleagues, a recent study has found.
  • The Source: A study by Dr. Yael Itzhaki of Tel Aviv University's Faculty of Management.
The Takeaway: Dr. Itzhaki carried out simulations of business negotiations with more than 500 Israeli and American management students. Her careful observations of the simulations, which involved negotiating the terms of a joint venture including the division of shares, yielded surprising results. Women, she found, were more generous in their offers, more motivated to create win-win results, and better at facilitating interaction between the parties.

And men, Itzhaki argues, are starting to pick up on the benefits of a softer touch, which is ironic as women are sometimes passed over for promotions for emphasizing just these skills. She says: "Women in mid-management positions are criticized for being too 'cooperative' and 'compassionate,' so they don't get promoted. Then men come in and use the same tactics women are criticized for."

While Itzhaki may be on to something, before we assume that women's gentle natures are the root of their more collaborative negotiating style, it's worth noting that earlier research found that should a woman opt for an assertive negotiating style, she may face a backlash and create a negative impression. Women's soft and fuzzy style may be more a matter of necessity or calculation than deep-seated gender preference.

The Questions: Weigh in: what's been your experience of gender differences in negotiating style?

(Image of lady negotiators by Finsec, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.