You could be facing your boss, your client, or your coworker.

We all find ourselves in situations where we must to deliver value to someone else. But it’s obviously important to manage expectations. One powerful persuasion technique is to ask for clarification in terms of priorities using the value argument.

Here’s how:

You Can Have Two, Not Three

The value argument.

Here’s how the value argument works:

If you want something CHEAP and FAST, you can’t ask for it to be GOOD.

If you want something CHEAP and GOOD, you can’t ask for it to be FAST.

If you want something FAST and GOOD, you can’t ask for it to be CHEAP.

It’s a tough discussion to bring up, for sure, but this conversation won’t be any easier if you postpone it until after your delivery.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.


  1. The triangle seems infallible long term, but not so at short term. Recent graduates, and others, can be fast, competitive and cheap. For them taking a low salary is a matter of limited experience or ignoring the market value of their talents and skills. However, employees that deliver a fast, competitive and cheap job tend to leave quickly. Employees with long term personal goals, or non-for-profit goals, may deliver a fast and competitively job at low cost. In more restrictive societies and cultures fast, competitive and cheap employees may stay a bit longer. Sometimes people from such cultures move to more progressive societies. Until they realize their freedom they leave.

    • Great point, Paola. I too see that pattern. Some junior staff can perform way above their pay grade, but one way or another, that stage often passes quickly, one way or the other.

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