SUGAR AND SPICE GETS THE DEAL DONE

Are women more skilled in negotiating a better deal? I believe that in a variety of cases they are likely to fare better than men, especially when men are in the presence of other men and feel the need to express their masculinity, often to the detriment of the outcome.

Research suggests that if you’re looking to strike a deal, make sure there’s a woman in the negotiation. It claims a satisfactory compromise is more likely when a female is central to the decision-making. Whether it is a married couple choosing a new car, two friends booking a holiday or business colleagues investing in stocks and shares, if one is the fairer sex, they will take fewer risks. But if, when an all-male group tries to negotiate, chances are the offers will be too high or too low.

Men making decisions together are dismissive of compromise and more inclined to ‘assert their masculinity’ by going for an extreme deal, said the research by business school leaders. They tested a range of buying and selling situations – from purchasing a torch, a car, or stocks and shares, to choosing a lottery ticket with a different range of prizes – on nearly 900 volunteers, split into pairs.

When a woman had to make a purchasing decision with another man and woman, the outcome was more likely to involve a compromise said The Journal of Consumer Research. But two men together would end up at one extreme or the other, the team from the Carrol School of Management at Boston College, US, found to be the case. For instance, two men going to buy a car choose one which is the fastest, most fuel efficient, or the safest. But if a woman was involved, the car was more likely to be one that combined the best of all elements.

Hristina Nikolova, assistant professor of marketing, said: ‘When men are in the presence of other men they feel the need to prove their masculinity. Both tend to push away from the compromise option because it is consistent with feminine norms. On the other hand, extremism is a more masculine trait so that’s why both male partners tend to prefer an extreme option when making decisions together.’

The experiments involved 1,200 students conducting deals as pairs or individuals, plus another 673 doing deals on line. Professor Nikolova added: ‘No matter what the product is we see the same effect. The compromise effect – basically emerges in any pair when there is a woman. However, when you have men choosing together they tend to push away from the compromise option.’

It goes to prove one thing to me – the best pairing in any situation is that of a male and female where the difference in instinct seems to work to the best advantage of both. There are, of course, notable exceptions which we cannot ignore in this day and age.

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