Flirting at work comes at a cost

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From Cleopatra to Scarlett O’Hara, women throughout history, and fiction, have made use of their physical charms to get ahead – and now a new study has found that using such tactics to advance at work might be effective but at a cost.

According to the University of California-Berkeley study, women who flirt in the office were considered less authentic and less genuine, and the distrust that builds up as a result could well be damaging in the long run.

The research showed there was both an upside and a downside to flirting at work, Professor Laura Kray from the University of California-Berkley told media. “Although flirtation appears to be positively related to women’s likability, negotiators who flirted were judged to be less authentic than those who refrained from exercising their sexual power.”

The study was conducted to find out whether trained negotiators considered flirting to be an asset when trying to claim value in arbitration, The Daily Mail reported. The negotiators were judged based on physical attractiveness, how agreeable they were, manipulative-ness, honesty, friendliness and how genuine they were.

Flirting was found to be the least effective negotiator characteristic, and attractiveness and playfulness were also viewed negatively, Kray said. “But the results suggest that the same behaviours are perceived differently when exhibited by men and women. This could be because flirting is commonly associated with the female personality, and women are more often seen as ‘communal and warm’.”

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