542 2nd Avenue Rivers, MB

Ph: (204) 679-7806
Fax: (204) 480-4537
Email: butterfly@mts.net

« | »

What are you worth?

I had a very interesting conversation the other day, a discussion of being over vs under paid. It got me thinking, not about how much I charge my clients for what I do, I have no qualms or reservations about my fee schedule – but about how we view others professionally and what criteria we use to judge them and through them, ourselves.

When we look at a colleague or someone we believe to be in our field, do we judge them based on their own merit or do we judge them based on how we feel we are valued in our own career path? Now having studied the sociological phenomenon in university, I actually know the answer to this but still think it warrants discussion in a more personal way than you will ever get through a text book. For example:

Imagine you are a server in  restaurant and are earning $11/hr plus tips. You feel you are a great server, your customers seem to like you an your manager had no great criticisms at your last evaluation. You are satisfied with your job, the hours are flexible and the tips are great – when you work your butt of, you go home with more than most of your friends make working much worse jobs. You are happy with where you are and what you are doing.


One payday, you are accidently handed the wrong paystub and without meaning to you realize that your co-worker, a friend of yours, one who you’ve always felt equal to, got along with and looked up to as a role model, is actually earning $13/hr compared to your $11. Suddenly your whole world changes.

Are you still as happy with your job? Is she still your friend? Do you still feel that you have something to learn from her? Can you be civil? Friendly? Or has everything changed?

Do you suddenly find yourself finding fault with her? Her attitude? Her performance? Are you suddenly critical instead of friendly? Do you hear yourself thinking or even saying, ‘I am just as good as her? She’s not even that good – look at her?’ Have you even gone so far as implying that perhaps there is more going on in the manager’s office than inventory to warrant those higher paycheques? Come on admit it – have you ever been in a similar position? What thoughts have gone through your head? Have you started gossiping behind their backs? Have you seen your own performance suffer because of it? Perhaps you have even left or been asked to leave a job because of your attitude over the situation leaving you even more bitter than you were before.

It is ok to admit it – no one is watching you nod through the screen right now,  I can’t see you so go ahead. You know what? you aren’t the only one, I have been there too – many of us have and I will tell you one thing – it has taught me a very important lesson in business and even in my personal life…


It just won’t work. There will always be someone who is better looking, more confident, better paid, more efficient, better educated… there will always be someone out there that you don’t feel you measure up to and if you only find your worth by comparing yourself to others and how they are valued by themselves and others, you will never measure up to everyone.

Sure, you might know how to handle a difficult customer better than your manager that makes twice your salary – does that mean you should have his job? Perhaps you see someone behind a desk in an office similar to yours – should you be making the same? And if you make more does it mean you are better than them or that they should feel as though they are less?

Business just doesn’t work that way, actually not much in this world does and there are some pretty good reasons why they don’t and why they never will…

  • No two people have the exact same levels of education, training and experience. They may have similar but it will never be identical – even people with the same degree have proficiencies in different areas and experience and training in others. You will never ever know the value of someone else’s CV to their employer by looking in from the outside so comparisons will never, ever work.
  • Similarly, there are rarely ever any two job positions that are identical outside of fast food and scripted telemarketing services. Just because someone looks like they are doing the same job as you or even holds the same title doesn’t mean you actually know enough about what they do and how they contribute to their employer’s bottom line to compare yourself and your position to theirs – there are just too many variables.

Take our server in the above example. Perhaps her co-worker has 10 years of experience before coming to that position? Maybe she has additional training? Perhaps she assists with inventory control? Or maybe when she was hired, she was just simply a better negotiator and started at a higher point on the pay scale, if she did, she is only getting paid more because she valued herself higher than you did when you accepted your position. Sour grapes over what you should have, could have and what she has done will not help you move up to her level but you know what will???

Ask her.

I know it’s an unheard of concept right? Straightforward honesty. No judgement, no self deprecation and no belittling others out of envy or self loathing, just honest open communication. The best way to get to where someone else is… is to ask them for directions. You want what someone else has? Ask them how they got it? You want to be valued and paid more in your job – find someone who is and ask them what you need to do to get where they are – I bet you will find out not only why their paycheque has an extra zero or two but how you can get one added to yours too.

Maybe you will discover that they have more experience, education or training and you can follow that path. Perhaps you will discover that they actually do more than you think and you can decide if you want to work more to get more or if you are back to being happy where you were. Or maybe they will tell you the secret to their success is that they believe in the simple truth that you will never get more than you ask for. Which means that if in a job interview a potential employer asks what your wage expectations are and you, out of fear of seeming greedy or losing the offer say, “Oh I don’t know, I am fine with anything, I know it’s level entry so $11/hr to start is fine!” You will rarely get more than $11 – it just doesn’t make sense to pay you more than you are willing to accept. Now someone who values their professional contribution higher will say, “Well with my training and experience (which may be similar to yours) I would expect a job like this to pay $15/hr.” She may actually get it, or she may get offered $13 as a compromise… All because she asked for what she felt she was worth instead of waiting to be told based on someone else’s standards.

That is how I determine my professional rates. I know what my value is to my clients. I know what I offer them, what I can do for them and their companies. I know what my minimums are and if they don’t agree, that’s ok – they don’t have to. That is the power of negotiation.

I know what I am worth. What about you? Do you value yourself high enough to stop comparing, stop complaining and go for the gold? It’s ok if you don’t know how – like I said before, just find someone who’s already there and ask them to show you the way – I bet you would be surprised at how willing they are to help! Trust me – YOU ARE WORTH IT!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 at 12:15 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

  • Recent Posts

  • Post by Month

  • Categories