Even if you’ve never actually done it, it’s likely that at some point you’ve thought about flirting to get your way. Whether angling for a promotion at work or a free drink at the bar, women are often well aware that feminine charm can help us get what we want, and a new study proves its efficacy.

The study, “Feminine Charm: An Experimental Analysis of Its Costs and Benefits in Negotiations,” by Berkeley professor Laura Kray, conducted a series of experiments to determine if “feminine charm” can pay off for women in negotiations.

Most notably, researchers asked both male and female subjects to imagine they were selling a car worth $1,200. They were then asked to read one of two scenarios involving a girl named Sue. When Sue met the first group, she shook hands with the seller, smiled and said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” and then in a serious tone, “What’s your best price?” The second group, however, got an alternate scene: Sue greeted the seller with a warm smile, looked the seller up and down, touched the seller’s arm, and said, “You’re even more charming than over email.” She winked, and then asked, “What your best price?”

Not surprisingly, male sellers were willing to give “playful Sue” more than $100 off the price of the car and weren’t as willing to negotiate with “serious Sue.” Meanwhile, neither version of Sue swayed female  sellers.

“Women are uniquely confronted with a tradeoff in terms of being perceived as strong versus warm,” study author Kray says. “Using feminine charm in negotiation is a technique that combines both.”

Still, flirting only works if done right. “If feminine charm is perceived merely as friendliness, then female negotiators run the risk of appearing to lack competitive intent, resulting in economic liabilities,” the study reports. “However, if the right balance is struck between friendliness and flirtatiousness, then female negotiators should avoid their impression management dilemma and derive economic benefits.”

It’s a balance that even Kray admits is delicate. “The key is to flirt with your own natural personality in mind,” she says. “Be authentic. Have fun. That will translate into confidence, which is a strong predictor of negotiation performance.”

What do you think of the results of Kray’s study? Have you ever flirted to get a better deal? Tell us in the comments section.

Image courtesy of Market HQ