Boundaries and Values – Part 1

Life can be something of a teacher. Recently, I’ve had a lot of people disrespecting my boundaries. This is vastly different from “pushing your boundaries”, which I thoroughly recommend 🙂

What I mean is that some people are demanding permission to cross a line I have set. I’m sure you know the sort of thing I mean. You set a deadline, a level of commitment or a standard of ability – and someone wants you to change it, just for them.

Take deadlines, for example. In my business, I run a series of public courses every year. In order to establish numbers and arrange or confirm a suitable venue, it’s helpful to me if people book a while in advance of the seminar. So I provide a discount as an incentive for delegates to book early enough to make this possible.

However, there’s always someone who has to push it. They want the discount, but don’t want to respect the deadline. You would probably be surprised to hear that it happens every single time. It does. Each time, there’s someone who calls or emails at (or even after) the last minute who wants to make a deal.

They don’t accept that the discount is not a right. It’s a reward for doing a specific action that I consider helpful – and therefore only a win/win outcome within the boundaries I have set. As for excuses, it’s been my experience that those who bargain hardest usually have the capital to spare.

If I was a large company with a call centre full of receptionists, such requests would be given short shrift. Since I’m a small business, I take my own calls and do not have the luxury of hiding behind ‘company policy’. In the past, I have occasionally flexed those deadlines. As the saying goes, it’s nice to be nice, but it sucks to be broke. And it’s worse still to have lost the respect of a customer before I ever met them.

Since respect is one of my top values, I have a new policy: No Exceptions.

That way, I will only attract customers who can respect my values, my time and the quality of my work. Naturally, I’m happy with that.

So is there any mileage in striking a deal? Maybe, but it has to be win/win. Everyone must benefit or you won’t get to make a second deal with that person. If you’re stuck in a win/lose mindset in this economy, business will be more like a constant battle.

I’m told frequently through the media that we’re living in financially straitened times, so if you’re buying a product from someone, then by all means negotiate. However, if you’re buying a service you need to be more careful, because too hard a deal can act as a powerful demotivator. In times such as these, many businesses are settling for far less than they should – they figure that they “need the business”. However, many other companies – those that demand respect – are actually putting their prices up!

Which do you think will still be in business in two years time? I guarantee it will be the latter.

Coming soon: In part 2, I’m going to discuss the true value of ‘free’.

Boundaries and Values - Part 1 by
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