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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 aboutstereotypes, but society gives men the one-up role: They'recheered for being loud, forceful competitors. Yet for women, theplaying 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 canuse negotiation to succeed.

Business deals provide special challenges for femalenegotiators. "Men are presumed competent, and women arepresumed incompetent until proven otherwise," explains DorothyRichardson, an entertainment and contract attorney and lecturer inWoodland Hills, California. Negotiation is all about power, andthis presumption creates an instant imbalance. Unfortunately, womenhaul this baggage into every bargaining room.

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