Sunday, May 12, 2019

Why we struggle asking for the money

Read Time: 2 minutes

Hierarchical System

We live in a hierarchical system, where we’ve been trained from birth to respect those who are in charge. To be deferential. To respect authority. To do as the authority tells us to do. To be afraid to not do as we’re told.

Pleasurable work

We love the work that we do. In fact, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – who wrote the book Flow – showed through his research on happiness that we creatives experience the longest periods of happiness when we’re doing our work. That’s a good thing. And I have to tell you: I love falling into the experience of flow that my work gives me. I’m sure that you do too.


Money is the highest authority in our society. The more money they have,  the more we respect them. And, on the darker side, the more we fear them. Why? Because to be in the group that survives in our society, we have to have the money that only those in control of the money can give us.

No surprise

When we have an encounter with someone who can give us the money, we need we’re naturally nervous. Maybe even terrified if we’re particularly vulnerable at the moment – haven’t had a gig for a while, need to make the house payment. Fear is right there, ready to shut down our ability to negotiate. To ask for what we need.

Wage slaves

We’re wage slaves. Indentured to those who have the money we need to survive. It’s a good thing that we love our work. That we have that pleasurable place to go to recharge when we can. To get past those terrible feelings of not being good enough, not worthy.

Work as refuge

But here’s the problem. Because we find refuge in our work, because we fear negotiations… we often find ourselves rolling over, giving in, or not just asking for what we need to succeed – in order to get back to the work we love, and away from the anxiety of negotiating.

That’s my experience, and the experience of the creatives I encounter through my work.

We all fear asking for the money


  • Willow says:

    I agree! I think women have an even harder time. First, we struggle with asking for the payment we deserve and second, if we get to the point of being able to demand equal pay, we are seen as domineering and difficult.

    For my first year in business as a virtual assistant, I’ve decided to keep my pricing very simple. It has actually made it easier for me to have conversations with prospective clients and get paid. With my photo work, all the variables of creating a customized price for service makes the conversations so stressful for me.

    • Ted says:

      When men negotiate with women they assume a superior position. In my view women need to ignore the superior attitude and simply ask for what they need to succeed for themselves and whoever they’re negotiating with. Trust in your expertise and that they need your help.

      I believe in simple standardized pricing. I could never remember more than three price levels. So I’m with you on that one. Lowers my stress too!

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