How to Negotiate with Different Genders



Successful negotiations often depend on how well you relate to the other person. For example, many people wonder how to negotiate with different genders. If you find yourself negotiating with people of different genders on a regular basis, there are tips you can follow to ensure everyone walks away friends.

Empathy vs. Aggression

In today’s culture, striking a balance between empathy and aggression is vital, but can be difficult. For example, women are often taught not to be assertive. They are told that assertion is the same thing as aggression and that it makes them seem uncaring. Therefore, women sometimes take an overly empathetic approach to negotiations and don’t push for what they want or need.

On the other hand, men are often taught that aggression shows strength, while too much empathy shows weakness. They are told that if they are too empathetic, they will lose negotiations, letting themselves and others down. Thus, some men “play hardball” more than they should.

The key to solving both these quandaries is to find your personal balance between empathy and aggression. To do so, analyze the type of negotiation you are in. If you want to sell a product or service to a client, for instance, you need to find points of agreement and empathize with his or her needs, rather than push for a decision.

Establishing Authority

Establishing authority is another tricky part of negotiating with different genders. Authority equals control, and exerting too much control could be seen as arrogant or demanding. Both genders tend to have a difficult time with this, although women are often more reluctant to take seats at the head of the table, make wide gestures, or use up space.

Experts agree that there are key ways men and women should establish authority without looking aggressive. For example, spread your materials out instead of keeping them in a small, neat stack. As much as possible, avoid reading from your material; this can make you look unprepared and not confident. Maintain friendly eye contact. Use silence to emphasize a point or give people time to think through what you have said.


When most people think of negotiations, they think of talking. Talking is a big part of any negotiation, but listening is even more vital. Both genders can be accused of not listening, or of using silence to plan what they want to say next. Learn how to actively listen, perhaps through professional negotiation training. When the other person is talking, maintain eye contact, nod, or say things like, “Tell me more about that” to show engagement. If you didn’t hear or understand something, be honest and ask for it to be repeated.

Don’t Bow to Stereotypes

Don’t let stereotypes influence your success in negotiations. If you are a woman who needs to be more assertive, ask for tips or assertiveness training from other women you trust. Seek opportunities to negotiate with men, and learn from key phrases they might use such as “I think” or “you know.” If you are a man, don’t be afraid to compete as much with women as you do other males. Learn from women as well – for example, women are less likely to “wing it” during negotiations, and this can help them succeed.

Tips for Communicating Value to Clients



Every business needs clients to function. To keep clients, you must convince them they are investing in a valuable product or service. Communicating value can be difficult if you own a large company or business, but it isn’t impossible. With the right strategies, you can communicate the value of any product or service, maintain your current client base, and find new clients.

Ask First

It might seem like common sense to ask customers or clients what they value in a product. Surprisingly though, many business owners don’t ask. Thus, their clients don’t feel valued and don’t get the product they are looking for. Before selling one product or service, ask customers what they value most about what you offer. If you’re a baker, is it healthy, gluten-free ingredients? If you’re a mechanic, is it your response time or the specific tools you use? Ask customers what they like about your existing product, what they would change, and what they would like to see more in the future.

Think Beyond Price

Most customers or clients want an inexpensive product, but they also want to come away satisfied with their purchase. For example, no one wants a well-priced product that breaks down easily, or a service that is fast and inexpensive, but of poor quality. When deciding how to sell your product, think about other factors such as –

  • The specific response you want
  • What you are willing to guarantee (e.g. is your new electric blanket safer and warmer than competing products)?
  • The knowledge your customers already have. Customers who frequently restore old cars will come to your mechanic shop with a greater knowledge base than those who don’t.

Use a Rating System

Rating systems are one of the quickest, most efficient ways to get customer feedback. A rating scale can tell you in one number how your business or product is doing in several areas, and it saves you the time it would take to read through paragraphs of feedback. A rating scale will also draw your attention to additional comments; if someone takes the time to specifically say what they liked or did not like, you’ll notice it right away and be in a better position to change it if necessary.

Find a rating system that works for you – for example, 1-5 with 5 being the best – and stick with it. Check your ratings often. If one or two areas get consistently low ratings, focus most of your energy on improving them.

Build Rapport with Customers

You can’t communicate value to clients without talking to them. Good communication often starts with rapport. Remember your customers’ names when possible, as well as details about the products or service types they like. For example, if you own a ‘50s-style café, get to know your customers well enough that you can ask, “The usual?” If you own a bookstore and know one specific customer likes a certain author, call or email her when a new release from that person is in. If you need help building and maintaining rapport, you can also check out our negotiation training or influence training for assistance.

How to Know When to Up-Sell a Client



Whether you are shopping for shoes or updating your computer, it’s likely you’ve been asked if you’d like an upgrade. Although these requests can be irritating, up-selling is a beneficial move if done correctly. Knowing when and how to up-sell a client can improve your sales approach and make you a more successful negotiator.

When to Up-sell Clients

Up-selling clients, or getting them to agree to an upgrade or a more expensive version of your item, is a delicate process. It requires tact, negotiation, and good timing. The first step to successful up-selling is knowing exactly when to up-sell your client.

One of the easiest times to up-sell is when a customer has already bought a product similar to the one you’re trying to sell them now. Many clothing store owners do this when customers are coming in or checking out. They remind them of current sales or “buy one, get one free” specials. Bookstore owners often place bargain books or “buy one, get one free” books on the same shelves so that customers will be enticed to buy an extra product while shopping for the one they intended to buy.

Busy seasons are also great times to up-sell clients. The Christmas season won’t be here for another two months, but most retailers are already taking advantage of its approach. Many stores currently offer prime Christmas items at cheaper prices than normal when a customer makes a Halloween or Thanksgiving purchase. Similarly, a hotel might up-sell you a continental breakfast at $20 cheaper than normal if you book during November or December.

Reading Clients’ Needs

Up-selling is a type of negotiation. As with other negotiations, a successful up-sell depends on how well you can read the clients’ needs. Let’s say you are a website designer and a client purchases your basic package. This could be the design of a homepage plus three additional pages at a set charge. Perhaps you want this client to buy your logo design services as well. You will be more likely to make the sale if you already know what their logo needs. You could say something like, “I see your store targets elementary teachers, but your logo looks like a university. I can help you redesign a logo that better reaches your target audience.”

Finding New Clients

If you’ve noticed your sales numbers falling, it might be time to consider up-selling clients. Many business owners shy away from up-selling because they don’t want to be pushy. The truth is, the right up-sells can bring more customers to you. You might be an independent bookstore owner who is worried about what chain stores will do to your client base. However, perhaps you also have a loyal group of customers who come in for books and coffee every weekend.

Offer those existing customers up-sells, such as a free book with every tenth purchase or discount pastries and cupcakes on a designated Family Day. To make the most of such offers, use corporate sales training and determine what types of offers are best for you.

Learning the Art

When you up-sell, you must do so with confidence and warmth. If you’re feeling unsure about up-sells or want to refine your skills, ask us about our negotiation training. It can help you keep existing customers, find new ones, and make great sales.