If you like to watch fireworks, just bring up the subject of gender differences at your friendly end-of-summer neighborhood cookout. That said, there is real science behind the differences between men and women when it comes to decision-making and persuasion.
Consider these findings:
• Men often overstate their abilities; women understate them
“In studies, men overestimate their abilities and performance, and women underestimate both. Their performances do not differ in quality,” wrote Katty Kay and Claire Shipman for The Atlantic in 2014. The authors of Womenomics: Work Less, Achieve More, Live Better and authorities on gender differences in business found that women working at Hewlett-Packard applied for a promotion only when they believed they met 100 percent of the job qualifications. On the other hand, men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the job requirements.
Bottom line: Persuasion is about taking risk. You can’t get the job if you don’t apply.
• A four-letter word for men: Help
In her book, Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching the World’s Most Powerful Consumers, gender expert Bridget Brennan claims women love asking for and receiving help. For men, “help” is a four-letter word. This gender preference paired with the rule of reciprocity will do wonders for you and your persuasion priority.
Bottom line: When persuading women, offer assistance in some form. If you’re persuading men, try saying something like this: “I found a report that talks about what you were researching. I’ll leave it here.”
• Men buy, women shop
Shopping behavior mirrors gender differences throughout many aspects of life. Often, women consider shopping an interpersonal activity, according to Wharton professor emeritus of marketing Stephen J. Hoch. Many men, on the other hand, treat it as something that must be done.
Bottom line: Pair this idea with personality behaviors to give you strong indications of how fast or slow you should move with your request.
Granted these are generalizations. But they are generalizations for a reason. Which means they’re generally accurate.
Keep these ideas in mind as you seek agreement.