Thinking back to my years in undergrad in the late nineties, I remember often being told that I had a ‘strong personality’. If I’m being honest, I have to admit it took me several years to actually figure out what that meant. For the people saying it to me, I think it meant a number of different things. But while I was always able to acknowledge that there probably was some truth to that statement, I could never really articulate what it meant to me. I’ve come to accept that for me it means possessing an inner confidence, being unafraid to speak my mind at the right time, and not allowing things to penetrate or affect me on a personal level if they don’t need to.
Being strong and vocal has served me well in many different ways in my life, and can be very beneficial in your financial life. It has given me the ability to negotiate better prices on big ticket purchases; it’s led me also to speak out when I thought that perhaps someone was taking advantage of me in a monetary situation. A lot of times the best money decisions come from asking questions and not taking no for an answer. Developing a strong personality can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars when you are not afraid to speak up for yourself.
A few months back, I went with a girlfriend to purchase a used car for her. Because I know she’s not always the first person to speak up for herself, I did offer to go because I thought I might be able to help her negotiate a good price for the vehicle. And in fact, the sales guy was so irritated with me refusing to allow them to renege on the deal they offered her and she initially accepted, that he told me directly he no longer wanted to talk to me. He was thisclose to asking you to leave his office. Ultimately they gave her the deal that she wanted because I spoke up on her behalf. If she had been there alone, I’m not sure she would have gotten a car at all.
I have come to find that having a strong personality is not really about your personality. It is about the standards and the guidelines that you set for your life. A lot of other people, men in particular, may be intimidated by a woman who voices her needs and wants, and is unapologetic about it. Before I went to the car dealership with my girlfriend, she had told me what she wanted and what she knew she could afford. I was determined to make sure she didn’t leave that place without what she was comfortable with. In the negotiation process, although it wasn’t my purchase, I was the more forthright of the two of us. Her way of negotiating was more about asking what she could have as opposed to telling the salesman what she wanted and what she would accept.
As I have grown from a college student to a professional working woman, I can tell you that it is more and more important to articulate what you want and what you will settle for in order to establish your own happiness in life. So if that makes me a person with a strong personality, I gladly accept that. Even if it took me over 10 years to figure that out.
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