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What’s It Worth to You?
All over the world, buying and selling involves negotiation. This article asks, “Why?” then they look at making the product from a non-American perspective.
For many years, I was a conversationalist and taught conversation in America and higher education. I enjoyed the challenge of paying as little as I could for something or selling as much as I could.
Then something happened. I stopped talking. The idea of thinking about the price of something lost its charm and soon, I became rusty.
A change happened when I moved to California and did my first “interview” with a member of the Highway Patrol. I was running and following a lot. In a way, that ticket was the first of many I had to pay. I think the money was used to pay for the rideshare lane. In any case, I stopped trying to get rid of them.
Ten years later, after caring for my father who had Alzheimer’s and thinking about my dead parents’ saving habits, I asked, “Why?” Although, their nest egg would have supported my father until his death at the age of 90, they lived a simple life with little vacation between hard work and sacrifice.
During those years, I remember my mother’s constant encouragement to make sure I had the right conversation.
When a black street dealer in Taipei tried to sell me a Patek Philippe watch for $125 in the 1980s, I negotiated even though I knew that a genuine Swiss watch would cost much more.
Today, I see it differently. I ask, “Is it money for me?”
When an Armenian artist was selling a Khor Virap painting at the Vernisage in Armenia, I could not negotiate despite the owner’s encouragement to do so. The country of my parents is still growing as an independent country and I want to help its citizens. I paid full price. It felt strange and yet liberating. Although I don’t usually want to be artistic, bringing home to a professional artist a painting of a monastery in the valley of Ararat was perfect for me.
On the other hand, when a reliable tree removal service quoted $2,000 to cut down a tree near my house, I realized that the tree was not worth it to me. Instead, I told the architect that the challenge of climbing up the branches of trees and cutting them myself was now very appealing and reminded me of my childhood. The contractor warned me that my childhood memories of nearly 40 years ago would cost me a fortune if I fell out of a tree. I laughed heartily in agreement. But the pull of my youth was greater than the difference of $1,250 and what I was willing to pay. Even though the economy was poor, it wasn’t worth it for him to have three people drive 35 miles to our house to make it a little easier. He went well. My husband and I carefully cut the branches of the tree.
Why don’t most of us just buy and sell based on what is most valuable to us? Determination what is important to us it’s a way to deal with integrity. In addition, we do not risk offending each other because the price is what we are willing to pay for the product. If there is no agreement, there is no agreement.
I would not pay five dollars for a handmade Patek Philippe watch. It might be worth the hundreds of hours spent making one, but the technical skills are not important to me. I would have been better off using the money for a gift for my caregiver.
What is the benefit to you? Start asking these questions and you’ll be surprised at how comfortable and confident you’ll be when trying to buy or sell something.
Let me take you through the last example of a billionaire who needs water.
Safe drinking water is becoming increasingly scarce in many parts of the world. In contrast, tap water runs freely per gallon in most cities.
Over the years, we have become accustomed to paying for water bottles. At an outdoor meeting, to quench our thirst, we might pay $2 for the same bottle of water that we would buy for 20 cents a case.
Would we be willing to pay more?
Again, it depends.
Far from prosperity, the billionaire’s charter plane is running out of fuel. The pilot makes an emergency landing in the desert between two warring nations. Days pass and the search parties are unable to reach the plane due to the conflict. Due to the lack of supplies and workers who refuse to leave the plane, the billionaire is going to the desert in search of water. Three days later, he is very weak with black eyes. He tries to look away when he sees a picture. Soon, a black leather-clad elder stands over him. His clothes are torn and he looks tired but strapped to his chest is a leather bag full of water.
Why should a billionaire drink the old man’s water?
Would they have discussed it? I doubt it.
How much would he be willing to pay that old man for a cup of life-saving water? $1,000? $10,000? $100,000?
This is why the conversation is not understood. Negotiation does not show the true value or importance of something between two groups that come from different places and perspectives.
We must take responsibility and decide the value we place on the things we buy and sell. When we do this, we will have more things we need instead of things we don’t really need.
“Un-American,” you say. Maybe not. After all, the relationship is stress-free and satisfying when we ask, “What is important to me?”
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