The American Association for the Advancement of Science: A tentative woman sways men the most

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The Independent Online
IF WOMEN want to influence men they should smile when they talk to them and sound as tentative as possible. This advice comes from psychologists who found that men are more likely to be persuaded by a woman who conveys warmth and friendliness.

'It's not enough for women to be competent. They must also be warm,' Linda Carli, a psychology professor from Wellesley College, Massachusetts, told the meeting. Professor Carli has found that when women use an assertive style to communicate, men perceive them to be more competent, though less likeable than women who use a tentative approach.

'In fact, men are persuaded more by tentative women,' she said. 'Men are persuaded by competent women only if they also convey warmth and friendliness along with their competence.'

The tests involved actors, speaking to a mixed audience in either an assertive or tentative manner, hedging the presentation with phrases such as 'It's sort of true', or disclaiming expertise with 'I may be wrong, but'.

Both the men and women in the audience responded well to competent male speakers. But 'men considered the female speaker using the competent style (rapid, accurate speech, a serious expression and erect posture) to be as competent but more condescending, threatening and less likeable than the competent male speaker. They were also less persuaded by her than by the competent male.'

Two psychologists from Florida have found that the most effective approach for either sex is to speak rapidly, in a well-moderated tone, use confident, fluid gestures, fixing the audience with a steady gaze and avoiding 'ums' and 'ahs'.

A loud, angry voice, lowering the eyebrows while staring, adopting a stiff posture and pointing the finger is ineffective.