Are women better negotiators than men? by Roz Usheroff
In Susannah Breslin’s post Why Men Are Better Negotiators than Women she offers that if we see negotiation through the male filter she describes, not only do they “lie better,” they use negotiation “to intimidate” and are therefore better negotiators. And indeed, this is the perspective many women hold as true, and why they resist negotiation at all costs. – Lisa Gates, Why Women Are Better Negotiators than Men
Earlier this week I came across an article in which it was suggested that women in the purchasing world are positioned to become the new influencers and deal-makers because they understand the importance of building relationships and collaborating. Conversely, and in the same article, IACCM CEO Tim Cummins made reference to a study that senior executives – who are predominantly male – tend to lie to one another at the negotiating table when it comes to what they can actually do, in what time frame they can do it and for how much money it can be done.
Considering that the above article presents two diametrically opposed principles it begs the question, who really are the best negotiators . . . men or women?
“Women have, by far, better relationship-building skills than men. This is not meant to stereotype genders – it is just a skill set that most women are a lot better at than most men. Supply management depends on relationship building, especially with suppliers.” – Kelly Barner, Buyers Meeting Point
In both the Lisa Gates Forbes article and according to Buyers Meeting Points’ Kelly Barner (who was quoting Dr. Tom DePaoli), women are certainly more relationship driven and therefore more likely to create a win-win outcome as opposed to men. The reasoning behind their position is that women “are much more naturally disposed than men to produce collaborative, durable agreements—meaning our agreements last, and don’t induce lingering resentment.”
If the above is true, then why are women reluctant to step into the negotiating ring? Simply put, we have for far too long correctly perceived that deal-making in the male dominated business world is one where you “don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!” This according to Susannah Breslin means that to be successful women have to adopt the male approach of being able to “lie” and “intimidate.” It is just not in us – at least not as ingrained in us as much as it is in men suggests Gates. As a result, women tend to shy away from situations where we might be called upon to “negotiate.”
However, the world of business is now changing into one of increasingly complex opportunities involving different cultures coming together to form partnerships. To be successful, you have to have a much better understanding of the party on the other side of the negotiating table so that you can effectively communicate with them regarding a shared or mutually beneficial outcome. In short we are moving from transactional to relational dealings and as such collaboration and cooperation is essential for success. This according to Gates and Barner plays to our innate strengths.
I am of course not suggesting that the negotiation pendulum swing so dramatically so as to relegate men to the role of spectator. What I do believe is that most men have a wonderful ability to learn and to adapt to a new reality. This means that as the situation or circumstances change, men too can alter their approach to negotiating so that they can’ along with women, focus on achieving the best outcome for everyone.