CNN has reported on a new piece of research out of MIT. "Bored on the Phone?" reports that MIT researchers have developed a device that can discern how much the person on the other end of the phone line is paying attention to the conversation with you. What’s most interesting to me, though, is that the study "indicated that men and women are interested in conversations for different reasons…"
The subject of the chat (used to test the program to analyze engagement) was more important to men than women…For the women, it was more dependent on who they were talking to and what the mood was like. It wasn’t just about the topic itself."
I think this has relevance for negotiation and other difficult workplace conversations. This research suggests that if you’re negotiating with a woman, you may need to be as attentive to the environment of the conversation as to the content in order to increase her engagement in the topic. If you’re negotiating with a male and want to increase the likelihood he’ll be interested and engaged in what you’re discussing, then you may need to be most attentive to the content of the conversation.