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Who's Talking?

Women are, and smooth negotiations depend on polished skills.

This story appears in the August 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It's been said that women are better negotiators than men. Maybe that's because they have to be. Say what you will about stereotypes, but society gives men the one-up role: They're cheered for being loud, forceful competitors. Yet for women, the playing field has never been level, so dealing with the "boys' club" requires a more sophisticated game plan. Where women can't use intimidation to come out ahead, they can use negotiation to succeed.

Business deals provide special challenges for female negotiators. "Men are presumed competent, and women are presumed incompetent until proven otherwise," explains Dorothy Richardson, an entertainment and contract attorney and lecturer in Woodland Hills, California. Negotiation is all about power, and this presumption creates an instant imbalance. Unfortunately, women haul this baggage into every bargaining room.

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