Who knew? What women do so easily (make small talk) will get better results in negotiation. But, only if you’re male. If you read the study it says that women don’t benefit as much as men do with the small talk. Why? It seems that men are inherently less “communal” so the chit chat helps them be perceived more positively so they get better results with negotations.
Here’s what the study authors said, “As compared to women, men are described as less communal, and, thus, for example, as less communicative, sociable, or concerned about others.” The study’s authors wrote more about how this effects negotiations. They said, “Because for men communality is not assumed, they may profit a great deal from showing communal behaviors.”
That got me thinking about why there were no advantages to women doing small talk in negotiations. Could it be their small talk was different? I think about some of the sales calls I’ve been on. The men’s small talk is related to sports and business. Are many women fluent in both subjects?
I know I’m not fluent in both. Business, yes, sports, no. Yes, I’ve golfed, but it was more amusing to me to watch the ball piddle out a few feet when I thought I was giving it the full force of my swing. Then I watched it soar down the fairway when I barely connected. Go figure. I also don’t enjoy the game. The only sport I’ll go to is basketball. Why? It’s fast and over quickly. Baseball is way, way too long.
So what kind of small talk do I make in negotiations? I focus on business first. Later, when I learn more about my customer I can talk about other interests like cars which I love since I used to work on my own.
Based on this research, I would advise women to sharpen their small talk. The weather may be safe, but it’s not enough. You had better be able to talk the language of business if you’re building rapport to be perceived as a business equal. That means you have to know general business conditions.
Is that industry up or down? What current events might be impacting that business or industry? What topics are they especially concerned with? Is there current legislation that could impact their business? What are their thoughts about it? You have to be ready if you want to hold an intelligent, strategic small talk conversation.
I’ve never heard a guy make small talk about his shoes or suit. Women will be hurt in business if they are only able to notice and comment on their clothes and shoes. Sure those Jimmy Choo’s are fabulous. The guy who is buying from you doesn’t care.
Best wishes for your sales success!