How To Make People Respect Your Time — And Not Be A Jerk About It…

In Business & Entrepreneurship
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Early in my business life, around age 21, I had a mentor named Jamal who taught me a valuable lesson. 

I had a friend in my neighborhood — let’s call him Gerald — who I was going to introduce to Jamal. We set a meeting for 4pm on Wednesday. 

I called Gerald on Wednesday to confirm the meeting. Not only did he not answer, I didn’t even hear from Gerald until two days later. 

Gerald called me, apologized for ghosting on our meeting, and suggested that we meet the following day; he even suggested a time for us. I told him I’d get in touch with my mentor Jamal and get back to him about that proposed time. 

I called Jamal, told him what had happened with Gerald, and asked him if Gerald’s proposed time worked for him so we could finally all meet up. 

There was a pause on the phone. 

Then Jamal spoke. 

“I am available — but I’m not.

“Look, Dre. You have to make people respect your time. He didn’t respect our time enough to show up for our first meeting, now he’s trying to dictate terms to us. We don’t make ourselves available to people who do that, because then you look desperate to them.” 

That meeting with Gerald never happened. 

Jamal’s answer was the best mentioning he ever gave me. 

The most valuable thing to have in any negotiation is leverage. 

The strongest leverage is the willingness to walk away. 

Most people never have leverage in anything in life — business, relationships, whatever — because they’re unwilling to walk away. 

Maybe it’s because you have a scarcity mindset and you think you won’t find a replacement or anything better than what you’re walking away from. 

Perhaps you want to avoid conflict, or possibly upsetting someone. 

Or, maybe you don’t see yourself as good enough or valuable enough or important enough to walk away from anyone who doesn’t value your time / presence / contribution. 

Here’s the bottom line, though: your personal power is directly related to what you’re willing to turn down or walk away from. What you are available for — but you’re not at the same time. 

When people know that you can be unavailable, they value it that much more when you are available. 

I made a FREE 5-part video series introducing the foundation of what I call the “Bulletproof Mindset” — which includes your ability to communicate with power and assertiveness — and you can start it here:

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