This past week, I saw or participated in two things that made me have to say to someone to maintain their dignity.

The first I'm not giving a lot of details on, except to say this. The person I gave my bit of advice to is doing everything she can to make her business succeed. She's new in the field of working for oneself, and that can be scary; trust me on this one. There are times when things get tough, and suddenly you're sending out messages, verbal or otherwise, which indicate to others that you're desperate.

In business, that's a bad thing. Some people are willing to help you, but the majority will either run away because they don't want to get caught up in it, or will take advantage of you, whether they realize it or not.

My friend is being taken advantage of in more ways than one. I don't like seeing it happen, and so I've been giving her counsel, unsolicited, but she's taking it. I rarely give unsolicited counsel, one because I get paid for it, but two, because I don't often take kindly to unsolicited counsel. My reason is simple; I usually have specific questions I want or need answered, and if I'm getting answers that don't fit what I'm asking, my mind just doesn't absorb it.

In this case, the tables are somewhat different. I keep saying it's unsolicited, but in reality, she's coming to me with problems, venting if you will, and I'm altering her perception of things with my advice, not telling her how to run her business. In other words, I'm teaching her how to maintain her dignity and not let people push her around anymore. She's finally starting to see it, sees how people are treating her, which she's hated but couldn't figure out, and she's going to be a very strong business person; I love that.

The second I just came across today. It was a message posted in a group on LinkedIn. This gentleman is obviously having problems in his business, and he posted a quick and short urgent message, which I knew was urgent because of all the exclamation points, saying he was looking to work with some other people at "low cost." I've seen some other people offering to provide services at a discount also.

Discounts are one thing; I offer discounts here and there on both products and services, but they're for a short period of time. That's just good business sense, a part of marketing. But there's something about the air of desperation that scares people, and when people are scared, for the most part they just stay away.

I did something like that earlier this year myself. Before I started my latest transition, business was slow. One of these days, there either will or won't be a health care plan, and hospitals will open their doors up for consultants again. But I sent out a message to people I knew, looking to see if there were any contacts to be made in the field. One of the people I sent the message to called me up, and we had a conversation.

He said I sounded desperate in the email, though I didn't use any real trigger words. He felt it, and I told him he was right. He gave me some unsolicited advice. I listened, and in this case, I took it. His point was spot on; the hardest time to hold onto one's dignity is when they're the most desperate.

There's one of those moral questions that asks if you needed the money, and a nefarious character came to you and asked to store something in your garage for one night, and you'd get paid $50,000, would you take it. Many people immediately say "no" because it's the right answer to give, but they're not thinking about the question. So, when I ask it, I set up the scenario of losing your home in a week, starving family, loss of job, etc. In essence, the question is meant to ask if there's a point of desperation you'd get to where reason and judgment get thrown out for what you perceive is the better good.

At some point, almost everyone says yes, they'd take the money. The few who don't say they won't take it on moral grounds, that they'd find a way. That's admirable, but not logical. The logical reason for not taking the money is because once you step on that side of things, you can never go back, and those folks will come back and ask you to do it again, and again, and again. You don't lose your dignity for taking the money; you lose your life and your freedom, because it's illegal, and the more you do it the better the odds are you'll get caught.

But we're talking about dignity. When I wrote about one's convictions, I mentioned that my top three are loyalty, trustworthiness, and honesty. Maintaining dignity is in my top 10, and possibly in my top 5. Without a proper sense of dignity, you're just going through the motions without a true sense of your own worth. And without that, what's the reason to try to do anything at all?

How will you decide to maintain your dignity in the face of tough times? Or do you think I'm missing the point?