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BLOGNickels and Dimes

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Business Development, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Professional Development, RecruitmentTagged as: ,

If you had a choice to be paid either $500 or $1000 for a service that you delivered, which would you choose? Most of us would choose the greater amount; after all, if we have to do the work, why not be paid as much as the market will bear? Take the money and run!

Unfortunately, not everything may be as it appears. There is an unfortunate story about a man who boasted that his child was so “dumb” that when given a choice between a nickel and a dime, his child always chose the nickel. Later one day, someone asked the kid why they didn’t choose the dime: “if I chose the dime, he would have stopped asking me which I wanted. As it stands, I’ve earned about ten dollars.”

The father never looked at the situation from the child’s perspective: instead, he made assumptions that in the end, made him look foolish. More importantly even the child knew that a continuous flow of nickels was better than just one dime. The kid figured how not to kill the golden goose, so he played along.

Most people would not put up with the “dumb” label just to earn a few bucks, but the story illustrates an important point: whether you are putting together a deal, negotiating your next job, or just agreeing on your next year’s performance objectives, remember that small greed succeeds. If you ask for too much, the risk isn’t just that the other party may walk away, but that they will say yes – and no longer send any more “nickels” your way. On the other hand, if you ask for too little, you are undervaluing your work.


Knowledge gives you tremendous leverage. Before you next negotiate anything, learn about the other party’s motivations, investigate the market, and probe. Don’t take the dime only to stop the nickels.

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