There is an expression some people use in Ghana. When you ask how much they will charge for their services they say – “just give me something from your heart”.

As a foreigner, this is one of those mysterious expressions the meaning of which is difficult to fathom. As my heart is not a money dispenser it doesn’t know what to give. “Oh just anything from your heart”, is the reply to my confusion. But what if my ‘heart’ gives something which undervalues the work? The expression is meaningless unless you understand the culture and the value of certain jobs. To a foreigner who is more confused as each day passes it doesn’t make things any clearer!

What I don’t understand is why a person would not want to negotiate their pay or at least know what you are going to give them in advance. Instead they suggest they will be pleased with whatever you give. This is not true of course, and seems to me to be a way of avoiding the responsibility of negotiation.

So when I hear this expression, I run to the person who will tell me what their labour is worth.