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Cash or card?

Romana Henry
Negotiation Cash Vs Card
© Adobe Stock

The global pandemic has, and will continue, to change our world in so many ways.

Don’t know about you but I cannot imagine how we will ever go back to indoor cinema visits, concerts and festivals, night clubs (for my kids!), rugby and football matches.  I’m sure we will but also think everything will be done rather differently, hopefully for the better. Unlike many, I love change!

The annual International Edinburgh Festival was one of many significant events cancelled in 2020 for the first time since its inception in 1947.  It has been cancelled this year too.  Although devastating for all those working in the arts, tourism and hospitality, the upside was that Edinburgh residents were able to enjoy the delights of an unusually empty city last August.  This year I suspect its cancellation will serve as a sad reminder of how devastating the pandemic has been to so many.  No-one expected that 2021 would also be as good as wiped out by Covid yet here we are, stuck at home, no festival, no travel, no holidays, no pubs or restaurants, no hugs.   It’s the only time we wish we were older so we could get bumped up the queue to get the vaccine!  We will miss the tourists, the buzz, the amazing concerts, plays and events and the city will miss the additional huge amount of revenue the festival generates.  Our kids will miss the seasonal jobs which were easy to secure, great experience for them and great fun.

I read that the pandemic has accelerated the use of plastic in lieu of cash and while for some, there are clearly upsides, there are downsides to others.

Think of the street performers and buskers who relied on cash donations - apparently some now have their own ‘contactless donations’ hand-held contactless devices!  I am struggling to imagine the thousands of street performers in the Edinburgh Festival getting the public to hang around after a performance, queuing up with their credit cards to make a donation!  I’m sure we’ll all adjust to whatever solution is presented; I hope so.

That got me thinking about all the beggars I still see as I cycle around the quiet streets of Edinburgh for my permitted daily exercise, of which, ashamedly, there are far too many.  Have you noticed how very empty their hats are through the pandemic as they ask for spare change – and no-one has any cash!   No hand-held money collecting devices for them (yet?).  How on earth are they surviving with so little cash?  Many, I suspect, are not.

An experiment was carried out at a University in the USA several years ago, where 3 groups of students were asked to dress as beggars and go sit around the streets.  Each group had a sign displayed asking for varying amounts of money.

Group 1 – ‘spare change’

Group 2 – ‘a quarter’

Group 3 – ‘ 37 cents’

Guess which group got the highest amount of donations?  Group 3. Why? Because they asked for a very specific amount which, even though it was more than the ‘quarter’, which arguably is also specific but more generic in terminology, leading people to assume that because the number was so precise, specific, that it must be needed for a particular cause.

This is good advice for negotiators who are often not specific with what they want, need, can or can’t do and expect the other party to read their minds or guess.  Dangerous assumption as very rarely will they guess at your favoured end of the deal and you will have to then do a lot of work to try to drag them to where you want them.

So, In a negotiation don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, tell the other side upfront what you can and cannot do.  Don’t be vague, unless you have a lot of time to waste and like to be disappointed. 

If you'd like your negotiators to be more specific then contact Scotwork NZ: or 04 2979069

Romana Henry
More by Romana Henry:
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