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Expected Value

We often find ourselves in moments of uncertainty, hesitation and inaction.

Should I ask for that raise or promotion? Should I negotiate the compensation in a job offer? Should I share my point of view with this group? Should I go introduce myself to that person and ask them out?

The expected value of not asking is zero. The expected value of inaction is zero.

Even if the chance of getting what we ask for is quite small, the expected value of it is positive. That is, if we do get what we ask for, that has value to us greater than zero.

When in doubt, it never hurts to ask for it.

However, there are times when asking for it has a negative expected value. Then, we'll have to weigh our chances.

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