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September 12, 2008

HR Fact Friday: Flirting to Seal or Sour The Deal

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: , , 12:39 pm

Hot off the press in the latest issue of HR Magazine it reads on page 12 . . . “Why it Hurts to Flirt”. What follows is a short blurb on whether flirting at work will help or hinder your ability to negotiate a deal.  Let see what SHRM has to say on the subject shall we. A common stereotype about women  is that they are less effective negotiators than men — so much so that popular lore suggests that women do well to bring men with them when they buy a car.

In contrast, women are widely viewed as adept flirters; in a recent Harper’s Bazaar survey of 500 professional women, for example, 86% said they would “happily flirt with a male colleague if it meant they got their own way.”

So can flirting enhance women’s effectiveness as negotiators? That would be a big “NO,” an academic research study confirms. In fact, when it comes to obtaining a good deal, flirting has a detrimental effect, up to 20%, even though flirtatious bargainers, particularly women, are judged “more likable” than non-flirts.

In a series of experiments, University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business professor Laura Kray and doctoral candidate Connson Locke had professional actors, both male and female, play the roles of sellers of a fictional bio-tech business. Each actor recorded two videos with the same script, but one was delivered with flirtatious gestures. Both male and female “buyers”  who viewed the videos offered the flirts 20% less, on average, than they offered the neutral sellers. The female flirts fared worst, receiving the lowest offers from both males and females. Male sellers, however, were penalized only by male buyers.

Being flirtatious wasn’t all bad. Subjects agreed that flirts were “more likable.” But what is more important in a professional environment — a likable disposition or an ability to bargain?

Source: HR Magazine, Sept. 2008, page 12, Why it Hurts to Flirt.


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