Photo by: Kat Banzon
If you ask me 5 years ago about my thoughts on women who refuse to negotiate I would have given my heart-felt oratory explaining the ways how this is doing a disservice to the rest of womankind.
Nowadays, I am less pushy. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I will still encourage my female comrades to negotiate. Obviously. But I would probably also tell them to trust their instincts to know if the benefit outweighs the risks for doing so.
Masculinity and femininity
Negotiation skills training often encourage masculine behaviors. This includes: assertiveness, directness and competitiveness. Feminine behaviors of passivity, nurturing and sensitivity are never acknowledged. That is traditionally, speaking.
I’ve been researching a lot about women in negotiations. Negotiation is traditionally a male-dominated area. And because of this, women who try to participate or advance within this space experience challenges because of their gender. Negotiating in a competitive environment typically favors men since they are stereotypically much better at competing than women.
Fun fact: Masculinity or femininity has nothing to do with gender. However, generally and perceptually speaking, women are associated with femininity and men are associated with masculinity. But I'm sure you already knew that.
Women in negotiations
Women are less likely to initiate salary negotiations than men. According to various studies, this is in part because women themselves are fully aware of the social backlash that negotiation triggers. This is where the risks outweigh the benefits of negotiating.
And when they do participate, women do not have as good a reputation as men in the bargaining table. I believe it is because women are measured against a masculine yardstick.
But using a traditional negotiation strategy is no longer the best approach for every single negotiation. We’re learning that a masculine approach to business, relationships and leadership is not always best. Receptivity, interdependence and collaboration are critical assets in professional success. And these are feminine traits.
In fact, when it comes to forging relationships and building alliances, feminine traits often take a stronger lead. I believe masculine tactics have dictated our professional strategies for quite sometime. But women cannot afford to follow this traditional route anymore and blindly “do as men do.” It’s time to change the game. Instead, women need to follow their instincts harnessing their feminine skills and incorporate them into their negotiation practice.