Flirting never hurt anyone, and, according to a new study, it may even help a woman when it comes to getting ahead at work.
A new study, published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that women who flirt or exert their "feminine charm" are able to win more negotiations and are seen as more effective in the workplace compared to those who don't.
Lead researcher Laura Kray, a business professor at the University of California Berkley, found that female flirtation, not overt sexual advances, signals attractive qualities like confidence, which is considered essential to successful negotiators.
However, researchers found that it doesn't work if men do the same, and for women, flirting your way to the top will only work in a male dominated space.
While women who said they used more 'social charm' were regarded as more effective by their male partners, men who said they used more social charm were not regarded as more effective and researchers found that a woman's 'charm' is actually damaging in relations with other women.
"Women are uniquely confronted with a trade-off in terms of being perceived as strong versus warm," Kray said. "Using feminine charm in negotiation is a technique that combines both," Kray said in a statement.
Researchers had asked 100 participants to imagine they were selling a car to two female buyers: one who shakes hands when she meets the seller, smiles, and says, "It's a pleasure to meet you," and another who smiles warmly, looks the seller up and down, touches the seller's arm and says "You're even more charming than over email," followed by a playful wink.
Results of the study showed that male sellers were willing to give the more flirtatious buyer a $100, or more, discount off the selling price, but were less willing to negotiate with the more serious one. However female sellers were not swayed by either of the two women buyers.
Researchers say that flirting is not unprofessional if it is playful and friendly. "The key is to flirt with your own natural personality in mind," Kray said. "Be authentic. Have fun. That will translate into confidence, which is a strong predictor of negotiation performance."
Renowned therapist Susan Rabin, who is the author of three books on flirting, agreed. Rabin told Cosmopolitan magazine that "power flirting" could be used to get ahead at work, impress friends and attract men. "The Power Flirt is genuinely charming, which is why she has so many friends and even more often gets the results she's after," Rabin said.
Other researchers believe that both men and women have "erotic capital" which can be exploited for success.
"Patriarchal ideologies have systematically trivialized women's erotic capital to discourage women from capitalizing on it - at men's expense," wrote Catherine Hakim, a sociologist at the London School of Economics, who is the author of a book called Honey Money, according to The Guardian.
"Unfortunately, radical feminists today reinforce patriarchal 'moral' objections to the deployment of erotic capital... Why not champion femininity rather than abolish it? Why does no one encourage women to exploit men whenever they can?" she wrote.