The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines self-respect as:
1: a proper respect for oneself as a human being
2: regard for one’s own standing or position
I come across the term myself most often when I’m about to set off on some chore or other and my wife asks, “Are you going out like that? You should have more self-respect.”
She has a point. I’m sometimes a very scruffy dresser, particularly at weekends. My most comfortable clothes and shoes are generally old. Sometimes very old.
Last year a young man at a local store stopped scanning my groceries half way through, just to check that I had enough money to pay for them. I’m guessing it was because, judging by my scruffy weekend clothes, he thought I was down to my last few dollars.
That said, I don’t make the same impression professionally.
I “dress myself up” very nicely.
Recently I was in discussion with a prospective client. After about 2 hours on the phone, numerous emails, and a two-page document outlining some broad recommendations, I decided it was time for me to start charging.
I thought long and hard about the best price point. We had both agreed that my experience and credentials made me ideal for the project. I balanced that against the fact that this wasn’t a massive company with a vast budget.
I settled on a figure and sent in a short proposal. My price was higher than you might expect from an average freelancer. But that’s as it should be. I have been doing this for a long time and knew I could add huge value to his business.
After I emailed my proposal I waited for him to reply.
He never did. Nothing. Not a word.
And I breathed a sigh of relief.
Absolutely. Because my price point was a filter.
If he had accepted, that would have meant that he “got” my value and would willingly pay for it.
When he didn’t reply I knew that he clearly didn’t get my value, and that he would be trying to get as much as he could from me for the lowest fees he could get away with.
Professionally, I have enough self-respect to turn away from relationships like that. So yes, I was relieved that I had set the filter at the right level, and identified him as someone I wouldn’t want to work with.
Imagine if I had waited a few days and then emailed him back with a revised and lower estimate.
Total lack of self-respect.
Think about this yourself as you deal with your clients.
I know, it’s tempting to do whatever it takes to land the job. But when you sell yourself and your time at a level that is below your true value, that shows lack of self-respect.
And as my wife points out, quite rightly, respecting yourself makes you feel better about yourself… and happier as you work your way through the day.
Professionally, it means you get to do better work with better clients, and achieve higher and higher levels of success.
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