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What I wish I had known at age 6: Negotiation!

AVA is an action-oriented learning community for ambitious professional women. We provide an open, honest place to learn and practice the tools and skills you need to Assess, Visualize, and Advance your career. Share on social media @advancewithava.


I was a budding business woman by age six! We had moved from an apartment in the city into the suburbs with a lawn. At the time I was getting 20 cents per week allowance, half of which I was required to give to the church on Sunday. I was learning the value of money at a young age and offered my dad my labor “to pick” the dandelions which carpeted our new home’s landscape.

I suggested five cents per dandelion (pretty sweet deal if he went for it.) I must confess that my dad worked long hours and wasn’t fully aware of the quantity of dandelions in the yard. He was not a total pushover however, and offered me one cent per weed. I didn’t think to “negotiate” for something between my desired five cents and what he offered me. I was very excited by his proposal and gleefully anticipated a 10X increase to my weekly income in one afternoon!

I was deep in the anticipation of heading to the candy store with my $1.00 – yes, one hundred flowers picked off the top of each plant- when I learned I had failed to correctly define what “picking” meant! My dad, being a good guy and kind hearted with his only daughter, did pay the bill and then switched to weed spray ending my future earnings!

What did I learn from this experience?

Misunderstandings abounded and in fact I didn’t negotiate at all! I was so excited to “get the job” that any payment was fine with me!

Tactical advice about negotiating isn’t useful if you don’t even recognize or engage in negotiation opportunities. To make matters worse the data shows that,

women negotiate only about 25% as often as men do, and about 20% of all women never negotiate at all.

While some worry about being perceived as aggressive, others might ignore an opportunity to negotiate because of fear associated with a potential conflict. Some women are simply too conflict-avoidant, and others lack confidence in their ability to influence the outcome. At age six I didn’t understand I could counter or negotiate my dad’s offer.

By recognizing opportunities for negotiating, we can open the door for better outcomes, whether personally or professionally. Learning to negotiate for what you deserve, money, recognition, equitable treatment can be life changing!

Consider the impact of negotiating a $7,000 starting salary difference over a 43-year career (ages 22-65) adds up to $649,000 (assuming a 3% annual increase), That’s’ worth learning to negotiate, I’d say!

Consider joining our AVA Success Beyond Wins, Business Negotiation Workshop on November 9th!

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