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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

About the author:

Sam Macbeth
As a Senior Consultant I advise clients on our training and consultancy and deliver our negotiating programmes. Before joining Scotwork, I was a Regional Manager with a former subsidiary of BP – developing and supplying environmental products and services within Europe, Asia and Russia.

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“When it comes to the qualifications we demand of our president, to start with, we need someone who will take the job seriously.” Michelle Obama. Don’t stop reading - this blog is not about Donald Trump. In the run up to the election of a new Labour Party Leader 4 years ago, the four candidates were invited by LBC radio to quiz each other. You can see the questions to Jeremy Corbyn here. There are two points of note. Firstly, when asked if he wants to be Prime Minister he ducks the question several times, instead referring to the ideological changes he wants to make within the Labour Party. Secondly when asked about his qualifications and experience to be leader of a major political party his answer is objectively underwhelming – before being an MP, he says, he had been a local councillor for 10 years. I don’t think it is difficult to relate those answers in 2015 to the current divided state of the Labour Party.

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