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How to Avoid Pushback

By Delee Fromm

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I have spent the last 25 years teaching and coaching in the arena of negotiation, and within the last decade, have focused on gender dynamics in negotiation. One of the most salient findings is that many more women than men are uncomfortable negotiating and, in particular, dislike competitive negotiation. This is not surprising as women get more pushback in negotiations than men do from both men and other women – they are expected to give in or accommodate. A recent study on wages, personality and gender published under headings such as “Nice Guys Finish Last”1 , “Nice Guys are Getting the Shaft”2 and “Is Meanness A Money Maker?”3 illustrates this no win aspect of negotiation for women.

The main findings were that disagreeable men (DM) make 18% more than agreeable men, DM were more likely to be recommended for a promotion than agreeable men, and disagreeable women (DW) make only 5% more than their gentle counterparts. Less obvious, at least in the headings, was the finding that nice guys made about $20,000 on average more than either rude or nice women. So perhaps the headings should have read “Gender Trumps Personality in Wages!”

Valuing interpersonal relationships and harmony were the hallmarks of agreeable people in this study, who were described as warm, kind and cooperative. DM and DW on the other hand valued competition and were more likely to advance self-interests: so agreeable women and DM fit traditional gender stereotypes for women and men. Thus it makes sense that managers promoted DM because they saw them as strong leaders – even when these managers were not aware of their bias. The conclusion of the researchers for these wage findings? Due to being atypical, both nice men and competitive women paid a penalty: nice men received lower wages and disagreeable women received a much smaller wage gain over nice women.


How to Avoid Pushback by Delee Fromm


Copyright © 2013 Delee Fromm
Copyright ©   2013  The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  May 2013