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.

What is your view of negotiation?

What is your view of negotiation?



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4 responses to “Are women better negotiators than men? by Roz Usheroff”

  1. piblogger says :

    Reblogged this on Procurement Insights and commented:

    Editor’s Note: This past week has been very interesting in terms of it being a small world.

    To start, my writing partner for our new book The Future of Procurement (#FutureBuy) Kelly Barner, brought to my attention the fact that a book she is reviewing for Buyers Meeting Point on negotiation made a page 2 reference to my post questioning the merits of the “you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate” mindset.

    Then earlier today, I read this post in Roz Usheroff’s blog The Remarkable Leader which asked the question are women better negotiators than men. A thought provoking post to be certain, in providing the answer to the question the article raised, Usheroff makes reference to no other than . . . Kelly Barner. You see, small world!

    However, there is considerably more to my sharing this post than the mere coincidence of random references. What I am talking about is a potentially significant shift in not only how we do business, but who is actually taking the lead in how we approach contracting in the procurement world.

  2. Kelly Barner says :

    What a fascinating series of posts (and responses) on the role of gender in negotiation. It would seem that whether it really makes a difference or not, people have strong opinions in both directions.

    One point I would like to clarify is that the above quote about women in supply management is from the book ‘Common Sense Supply Management’ by Dr. Tom DePaoli. I quote it often because it is so interesting, as are the exchanges I have had with the author on the subject.

    I dug deeper into this whole exchange in a post on Buyers Meeting Point, A Battle of the Sexes, or Just a Battle?

    • Dr Tom DePaoli (@DrTomDePaoli) says :

      Let me clarify. Women are far superior in relationship building and getting people to cooperate and problem solve together. Negotiation at the strategic level should not be considered a “contest” or sporting event. Unfortunately, many men view it in this manner. At the strategic level it is more about making breakthroughs together and getting a unique competitive advantage, that your paying customers cannot ignore. You desire what I call “leapfrog” breakthroughs, not wins and losses. Again, we do not want to stereotype, but from my experiences, most women have far superior relationship building skills. Don’t confuse this with the old fashion beat up your opponent adversarial negotiation methodology. This is appropriate for some situations. But it rarely results in breakthroughs.
      I explain this in more detail in my books. – See more at:

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