Friday, February 10, 2012

All work and no pay

Just click on the picture to enlarge. 

High up in the Himalayas, during one of the last sessions in our 150 hour long basic Yoga course at Agama, Monica, our instructor, gave us a very valuable lesson. "Never teach yoga, or anything else for that matter, for free.", she said. "You might think that you are sharing your knowledge and making the world a better place, but you are, in fact, encouraging your students to not value their new found knowledge, simply because they received it for free. It is in human nature to not understand and appreciate the worth of something, simply because they haven't paid for it. Charge something, even if it is nominal, and it will make a world of difference to you and to them."

I am terrible at asking for money. When I went for my first ever job interview, they asked me how much I was expecting to get paid, and I spontaneously blurted out, "Rs. 3000 - 5000 per month.".{This is equivalent to about $100.} And we were talking about a 10 hours a day, 6 days a week job in the most expensive city in India. It is a miracle that my interviewer did not laugh in my face. But they did end up paying me Rs. 8000 per month {Thank God they didn't listen to me!}, which in retrospect, is still an incredibly terrible salary.

There are many reasons for why I thought the way I did {and probably still do}.

1. Asking for money is classless. It's like going to a Louis Vuitton shop, finding out the price of the newest trolley bag and then telling the shopkeeper that it is too expensive for you. A girl's gotta always act like money's no matter for her. 

I wholly understand how ridiculous this sounds! I am as silly as silly goes. And I no longer feel this way. At least, not entirely.

2. Money is too 'base' a need, as compared to motives like service, love, kindness, compassion, and upliftment.

I am a little bit of an 'I wanna change the world and as long as I can do that in some way, nothing else matters' kinda girl. But the point of this is lost if this behaviour itself is not self sustainable. When I was in the aforementioned job, I could barely pay the rent for my crappy apartment, let alone buy food and other supplies. My father supported me a lot financially at that time. Therefore, while I thought that I would be doing a good deed by not asking for money from a really, really rich woman who was making a socially relevant film, and hence was trying to cut costs, my father had to pay the price for it. And that is absolutely not fair.

3. I should not have to ask for anything. People need to know what I deserve and give it to me. 

{Yup. This makes me a prize as a partner. Ask my husband!}

Employers need to be fair and true, and offer employees what they really are worth at every stage of their career. 

This is really a whole lotta jazz, for the most part at least. I have figured this out the long hard way, with not just what has happened to me,{I have been underpaid and overpaid.} but also from the lives of pretty much everyone around me. Some get paid way more than they deserve and some get paid way less. It's all part of the circle of life. And that is why you need to be fair while you are quoting your price, and you also need to negotiate. {Here, by 'you', I really mean 'me'.}

Well, that's about it. These three reasons, combined, make me terrible at asking for money and even if I do get myself to do that with a great deal of trouble, I buckle under pressure and the whole 'negotiation process'  falls flat instantly.

In any case, I'd like to think that it all evens out in the end. It better!!! Otherwise, by the time I reach the Pearly Gates, the Universe will owe me a few million bucks!

This ingenious flowchart is by 'letterer, illustrator, type nerd, and secret web designer', Jessica Hische, whom I am a big fan of.  My blog button is made with letters created by her. 


  1. the rule while salary-negotiation is to ask at least 20% more than the maximum amount they plan to pay you :) To know what they will pay you, u need to do a lil homework and check with a few folks in the same company or similar industry..

  2. what about in relation to your previous salary? does that matter? i really am confused.

  3. so complicated! i wanna be my own boss. i'm gonna start a cupcake shop. or write a cookbook. have i said this to you?


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