A new study finds that for women in the workplace, a little flirting could help you get ahead in your career. Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, found that when women flirt, people perceive them as confident, which is considered essential to successful negotiations.
"Women are uniquely confronted with a trade-off in terms of being perceived as strong versus warm," lead researcher Laura Kray said. "Using feminine charm in negotiation is a technique that combines both."
To determine whether women who flirt were more effective in negotiating than men who flirt, researchers asked 100 heterosexual subjects to evaluate to what extent they use social charm in negotiation on a scale of one to seven, while in turn evaluating the effectiveness of their partner. The women who said they used more social charm were rated more effective by their partners, while men who said they used more social charm were not regarded as successful, noted the findings.
In a second experiment, researchers asked subjects to imagine they were selling a car valued at $1,200 to two female buyers. In reading the scenarios, one group meets a buyer named Sue, who shakes hands when she meets the seller, smiles, and says, "It's a pleasure to meet you." The second group is introduced to her more playful counterpart, who smiles warmly, looks the seller up and down, touches the seller's arm and says, "You're even more charming than over email," followed by a wink.
The research found that male sellers were willing to give the more flirtatious buyer more than $100 off the selling price, but they were less willing to negotiate with the more serious one. Perhaps not surprisingly, female sellers were not swayed by either of the two women buyers.
"The key is to flirt with your own natural personality in mind," Kray advises. "Be authentic. Have fun. That will translate into confidence, which is a strong predictor of negotiation performance."
The study, announced Wednesday, was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology.
In a separate study from the same team, Kray and her colleagues found that flirting can help women get ahead, but their colleagues may not like them for it and may rate them less authentic and genuine than non-flirting colleagues.
Interestingly, a separate study from last year found that men who flirt at work tend to be less satisfied with their jobs.