Want to Succeed in Your Next Negotiation? Be a Flirt


Office FlirtingHow are “Mad Men”’s Joan Holloway and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright alike?

You might not think they have much in common. But, according to a new study, these women both successfully use feminine charm to get what they want.

The research, lead by Dr. Laura Kray, provides the first-ever academic look at the notion of feminine charm, and its potential economic benefits. Striking the right balance between friendliness and flirtation may be a woman’s secret weapon for a successful negotiation.

The study found that employing the right technique can boost a woman’s chance of success in a negotiation–with either a man or another woman–by as much as one third. The research also found that a woman who uses feminine charm effectively can successfully bargain for roughly 20% off the price of a car.

So, is there a science to flirting? Dr. Kray would say yes.

“Feminine charm is a strategic behaviour aimed at making the person you are negotiating with feel good in order to get them to agree to your goals,” Dr. Kray told The Independent.

The most effective charm will balance warmth and friendliness with flattery and sexiness. Dr. Kray warns that appearing too friendly will hurt women because they can come across as pushovers and people-pleasers, rather than powerful career women.

But too much feminine charm also has its downside. The study found that women who overtly flirt to get ahead are viewed as less trustworthy and authentic by their co-workers.

So should women employ feminine charm to get what they want? Is it fair?

Well, the research shows there is an evolutionary reason for this kind of skill. Women have to engage in flirtatious behavior to disguise the “unappealing” masculine qualities—like competitiveness and aggressiveness—that they need to be successful in a negotiation. Essentially, flirting helps you act like a man without appearing to do so.

Ironically, the most feminine behaviors–like flirtation and playfulness–may be the key for women to achieve parity with men in the workplace and close the pay gap. So, turn on the charm in your next negotiation and you may see a bigger figure on your paycheck.

  • Thirdof3atUMD

    Wow. I am disgusted you printed this, LV. 

    • http://twitter.com/JayMattJr Jay Matthew

      I want to know who thought this was a good idea.

      • Codetigre

        I think it is a good idea

  • http://twitter.com/JayMattJr Jay Matthew

    This is really offensive and sexist. I am disgusted with this too.

  • Cmac91000

    You can be as idealistic as you like and live in your own little dream world but you have to face the facts flirting and sex do work in negotiating and advertising.

  • Wendyt220

    This is true, and in most cases, a woman can turn into a “damsel in distress” or nowadays a “damsel in this dress” and get SOME things easier.  Careful though, it can backfire.  

  • Abha Mohanty


  • NothingWrongWithIt

    This absolutely works for men also. As a business owner I not only “flirt” with my clients but have always encouraged my employees to do the same. Not in a ”I want to take you home way” though.

    The next time you tip a waitress pay attention to your own actions. Do you give more to the person that is good and nice enough or do you give more to the one that is good and touched your arm or shoulder at some point and said “what can I get you to drink sweetie?”. Harmless flirting.

    One of my absolute favorite things to say when flirting with a group of senior women is “How are you “girls” doing today”

  • Jess

    This is perpetuating negative sexist stereotypes about women lacking the proper intelligence or confidence to achieve their goals, instead of the need to unbutton their shirt a bit.

    Isn’t it funny how this article assumes the person the woman will be talking to, ie the person in the position of power, will be a man? Will flirting with a heterosexual woman boss still get you a raise?

    I thought this was a decent site but apparently it’s staffed from people out of the 1950s.

    • Kenoryn

      Actually, no, it said it would boost a woman’s chances of success with a man or with another woman. What it’s not clear on is if men can use the same strategy. 

  • fascinero

    Although a viable negotiating strategy for a stripper, I’m not sure what other business it would fit into.

  • Kelly

    Men do it too!  I’m willing to bet the people anti-flirt/charm just don’t have it in them or have tried in the past and have been unsuccessful!  Stop taking yourselves so damn seriously!  You’re not that important :)

  • Foo

    Madeleine Albright flirting? Good lord, that’s hilarious.

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  • Janeharr