Dignity and integrity for sale?

Earlier this week, I had a tough choice to make…. here’s what happened.

Our consulting firm made an offer to do some work with a new client. The client accepted our offer and then came back the next day to try to negotiate a different price.  I declined their request to pay less (in what I thought was a gracious manner) and they (not so kindly) told me that they might just take their business elsewhere. They invited me go away and reconsider their offer. I told them that wasn’t necessary. They told me it was… and then with a little heat, added “I suggest you take the time to consider ALL the implications… if you know what’s good for you.”

I politely bid the client adieu and hung up the phone. After my righteous indignation dissipated, I considered the affect loosing this new client would have on us. We’d just hired a few new members to our team and the additional cash flow would sure be useful.  Then I found myself trying to convince myself that some money was better than no money and before long I was sliding down the fear and scarcity greased slide into panic.  I caught my breath. Took a few deep breaths and reminded myself what I stood for and cared about… and how adversity doesn’t build character insomuch as it reveals it… and when I did that, I really didn’t like what I was seeing about myself… that I was considering a price for my dignity and my integrity.

I called the soon to be ex-client right back and told them that the price I’d quoted was fair and not negotiable, no matter what the cost.

That night I went to sleep convinced that I was financially poorer than I’d been when I’d woken up that morning. That was OK though because despite all that had happened, I was going to sleep with my dignity and integrity in tact. And then I took note of how close I’d come to selling something that is not for sale, at any price. Hmmmm.


Success simplified; lessons learned down a hippo's throat. Speaker, Author, Coach who will parachute in when traditional solutions won’t get it done.

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  1. Thank you, Paul!  Thank you for sharing that story since, well, I have had the exact same experience in my career as a motivational speaker more times than I can recount. “Sliding down the fear and scarcity greased slide into panic.”  I thought I was the only one who knew about that slide.  Sadly there have been times when I let the panic get the better of me and I compromised my belief in myself.  I NEED to have people like you reminding me that while we can ALL fall victim to that behavior –  it surely feels SO much better when we don’t.


  2. Good message for me too Paul! I definitely do not want to put my integrity on sale. Saying no is important in our business. Saying it with grace and professionalism – even more so.

  3. Thanks Paul!  Integrity is not for sale.  I applaud your courage and your strength and willingness to stick to your guns!  Sometimes it’s those clients that want the most ‘discount’ are the ones that are the hardest to work with.  I needed to hear this message for sure and hope to remember it the next time a prospect wants to negotiate into unfair territory!

  4. Excellent post, Paul! Also can relate to those moments of fear where I come from a place of scarcity versus abundance. Thankfully it’s reminders like your story that set me straight. Plus, in my years of working I’ve found the clients who start out being difficult are usually more challenging every step of the way. Best to honor your truth and let them go.

  5. Paul, a practical consideration of the story is the huge PITA this client would be in the long run. This client’s lack of ethics would plague you for (potentially) years. All of your dealings with client would have left you with a slimy feeling. Ethic considerations or not, you’re better off without this client.

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