I recently wrote a post about the science behind the differences between men and women when it comes to decision-making and persuasion, focusing on the male perspective.
Now, I’ll continue that exploration of gender differences and how you can apply them to hear yes more often by focusing on the female perspective.
1. Women make terrific personal evangelists.
Women focus on details, researchers say, and are more likely than men to talk to their colleagues about their experiences with you.
Bottom line: If you want personal evangelists — people willing to sing your praises — identify women with whom you’ve exceeded their expectations.
2. Men decide; women ruminate.
Scientists Colin Camerer and Read Montague imaged the brains of men and women to determine the neural roots of fidelity and betrayal. After making a decision, the male brain turned off. Female brains, however, continued to display activity in parts that regulate worry and error-detection.
Bottom line: When she says, “I’ll have to think about it,” that doesn’t mean “no.” It usually means she actually does need to think about it.
3. Perfectionism is a confidence killer.
“Women feel confident only when they are perfect,” Katty Kay and Claire Shipman wrote for The Atlantic in 2014. “Study after study confirms that [this] is largely a female issue, one that extends through women’s entire lives. We don’t answer questions until we are totally sure of the answer, we don’t submit a report until we’ve edited it ad nauseam, and we don’t sign up for that triathlon unless we know we are faster and fitter than is required. We watch our male colleagues take risks, while we hold back until we’re sure we are perfectly ready and perfectly qualified.”
Bottom line: No one needs to be at 100 percent all the time. In fact, few are. Leverage that reality in your persuasion efforts.
4. Gender behavior is based on brain structure and body chemistry.
In 2006, neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine released The Female Brain, a book that generated major debate by claiming that women’s brains “are so deeply affected by hormones that their influence can be said to create a woman’s reality. They can shape a woman’s values and desires, and tell her, day to day, what’s important.” Brizendine then released The Male Brain a few years later, in which she states that “a man will use his analytical brain structures, not his emotional ones, to find a solution.” She also notes that “the male brain thrives on competition and is obsessed with rank and hierarchy.”
Bottom Line: Differences in estrogen, testosterone and oxytocin affect moods, behaviors and decisions. Everything is situational, especially this guidance. Identify the mercurial targets from the more static and approach accordingly.
5. Women don’t ask.
While researching their book Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation — and Positive Strategies for Change, economics professor and negotiation specialist Linda Babcock and co-author Sara Laschever found that only about 7 percent of female MBAs attempted to negotiate their salaries when hired, compared to 57 percent of men. Those who did negotiate increased their salary by more than 7 percent.
Bottom line: You’ll never get the promotion, the assignment, the budget or the career you want if you don’t ask. The worst thing your target can say is no.
Some women — and men — might be highly offended right now and argue against any generalizations like the ones listed above. Others may be nodding in knowing agreement. Keeping these ideas in mind will help you stay out of the muck as you seek to achieve persuasion success.