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Five Effective Ways to Say No

By: Guest | October 17, 2011 | 
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Today’s guest post is written by Ingrid Abboud aka ‘Griddy.’

Well lookie here – it seems I get to hang out at Aunt Gini’s house again. It’s been a while since I totally ignored her 500 word limit rule for guest posts my last visit ;).

Oh, and here’s a head’s up – I’ve thrashed the word limit this time round as well!

Sorry Gin – but Lisa said I could muwahaha! (Lisa’s note: Nuh-uh. I deny such claims.)

I’m not sure if that makes me a rebel or a nerd – but either way, I sure as heck appreciate the space, time, and tolerance that Spin Sucks affords me.

The Art of Saying No: In Life and Business

There have been numerous articles on why it’s sometimes necessary to say “NO” – whether to a potential client, an existing one, or even a friend or colleague.

There’s even a couple written on this blog that touch upon the subject.

Saying No to Clients

Why We Say No

Now before you yawn, hear me out…

I have no intention of regurgitating anything from those two posts!

Believe it or not – I have my own thoughts and wise words of wisdom on the topic.

There’s no doubt saying that two letter word can often pose a challenge – whether it be because we’re afraid, embarrassed, overzealous, unsure…whatever the reason, that small hesitation that leads to a yes, might have you banging your head against the wall while you repeat the answer you should have given in the first place…”NO, NO, NO!”

When a friend pleads with you to take over their assignment because they’re spending the weekend at the beach or a client asks you to handle their social media activities for 50 percent less of what you normally charge – it’s almost natural, not to mention nice – to agree and help out.

But the thing is – saying yes just to be nice or when you really can’t, might make it hard for you to follow through especially if you already have prior obligations.

What’s more, working while annoyed or for much less than you deserve can create a lack of motivation, not to mention a lack of quality.

So why open a door of potential problems for yourself when you can just as easily say no in a firm but polite manner – one which won’t create resentment from either party?!

What’s this you say Griddy? No resentments? No problems? No regrets?

Please do tell!

Well considering that I’m “officially” allowed to muse for another hundred words (which in Griddy world means at least 500), I’m gonna’ do just that.

Five Effective Ways to Say No

1). “I would love to, but unfortunately I’m not able to take that on right now.”

Whether you’re being honest or not (with the love part) – this line is somewhat code for “I don’t have the time for this and if I were to say yes I’d either not finish your project on time or do a half-ass job just to say it’s done.”

Always know your schedule and deadlines as well as your limits. You’re not frickin’ R2D2 and there’s only so much you can multi-task.

It’s important to level with yourself and others. After all, you want to remain true to yourself and the quality of your work. I’ve been late to deliver a project before because I was in over my head. Trust me, it’s a lousy feeling!

2). “Thanks for thinking of me, but I don’t think I’m the right person for that.”

Okay people…not everyone can do everything! Sometimes you just need to stick to what you know and are good at!

You may not agree with this, but I believe it’s important to admit when there are others out there who’d be better suited for the job. If a project is outside your scope of expertise or services, there’s no shame in saying so.

Remember: Your reputation and credibility are on the line each time you commit to something.

This answer (or one similar) could also work if the request goes against your values and beliefs. It might not be as harsh or straightforward as as saying, “Sorry, but I’m not okay with that” or “I’m not a fan of that cause or organization”, but it works nonetheless, and might spare you the “why” or “how come.”

3). “No thanks, but I can recommend someone else (or so-and-so) to help you out.”

Although you’ve given a firm negative, you’re showing your helpful and caring side by pointing them in the right (but different) direction. I’ve often had to do this – especially when I was overloaded or less interested in a project.

It’s always nice to recommend folks (as long as you’re sure of their capabilities so the finger doesn’t get pointed at you later) because they’ll most probably appreciate it and may even return the favor someday. Plus, it shows you support and aren’t threatened by others who work in the same field as you.

However if it’s a crappy or tedious job – like mowing the lawn for example – you can always call upon the fabulous Spin Sucks gals, Gini and Lisa. They’ll have your garden sorted out in no time (this is where my sarcastic emoticon would go if there was one)!

If you’ve got a confused look on your face because of that last part, go ahead and click here to see that I’m not on crack.

4). “Thank you, but it’s a rather big commitment for me right now. Is there any other way I can help out?”

Your friend asks if you can help organize an upcoming fundraiser. You realize that it’s a pretty large commitment that’ll require a ton of work and dedication. For whatever reasons – you’re not up for it.

With an answer like that, you’ve made it crystal clear that it’s a no-no for you. But at the same time, you’re not completely kickin’ ’em to the curb. You’re still offering to help out all while making it clear that it would mean a less major role on your part.

5). “Sorry, but I’m afraid it’s not part of the job description that we agreed upon. But if you like, I’d be more than happy to revise the contract and send you an updated proposal that includes your new requests.”

When it comes to saying that – I’m as weak as they come! It’s like my personality shrivels away – along with my female cojones – and I willingly get taken for a ride. It truly boggles my mind!

This type of answer demonstrates your awareness and your business sense. It’s also perfect for when a client pulls a project creep on you – something that’s being done to me as we speak. For the love of God – DO NOT let this happen to you! The more you cave, the deeper you’ll drown.

If you’ve been hired to do a job and your sweet client is squeezing in a bunch of other unrelated tasks – put your foot down! Don’t be afraid to call them out – regardless of how much you “like” them.

Note to self: Please follow own advice.

Alright, I’ve said enough.

Sheesh Lisa! There’s no need for you to shake your head in agreement! As it is, Gini’s running a word count and gasping ;).

Now it’s your turn…

Have you ever been in a situation where you knew “NO” was the right answer but you said “YES” anyways?

What other ways of saying “NO” have worked for you?

Have you ever had a client pull a project creep on you? How did you handle it?

Don’t be shy. You know I love it when you join the conversation – so go ahead and share your thoughts and stories.

Ingrid Abboud aka ‘Griddy’ is a whole lot of things with a ridiculous amount of interests. For one, she’s a social media enthusiast with a tremendous passion for writing and blogging. She’s also a pretty cool copywriter but a more serious MarCom Consultant. But most of all, she’s the proud owner and driving force behind nittyGriddy.com – A Kinda Social Media Journal with Net News & more.

P.S. This is Gini: We’re at 1,344 words. That means you can’t come back for 18 months, but we still love you.

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139 Comments on "Five Effective Ways to Say No"

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trontastic
trontastic
4 years 6 months ago

Think of how often have you heard from a peer at work or exec “I know we shouldn’t do this but think of all the doors this business might open” and now think of how many times you’ve heard someone say “Wow, I know we took it in the shorts in the beginning, but look at how lucrative this relationship has become”.

Nuff said. Print this post and put it on that peer/exec’s desk.

Griddy
4 years 6 months ago

Okay – here we go again Aunt Gini! You and I always get different numbers for the word count hahaha. So what do you say we ask folks to one on their end as well :). Starting from “well lookie here to….share your thoughts and stories”.

Oh – and did I say thank you and I love you today? :))))))

Seriously – thanks again for asking me to come back – even though technically it was Lisa this time haha. Much appreciate you guys!

Big hugs

balemar
balemar
4 years 6 months ago

Saying no to the things that don’t matter or don’t fit leaves room for the things that do matter. Awesome post @Griddy ! (Don’t worry about going over! It wouldn’t be authentically you without it! ;p )

Griddy
4 years 6 months ago

@balemar Hey Beatriz – great to see you here and thanks for sharing your 2 cents :). You’re absolutely right about what you said! Now I kinda wish I had added your line to my post ;). As for going over – well, heck…it was expected hehehe.

Hope you’re having a great Monday.

All the best

wabbitoid
4 years 6 months ago

The best way to say no is to say, “That’s not a good fit with my skills, but here is someone who I am sure can help you.” No better way to make friends – and get referrals on the stuff you can do well. :-)

trontastic
trontastic
4 years 6 months ago

@wabbitoid or…”Hell no I won’t help you out while you sit on a beach and I’m stuck here in the snow”. I mean, either way works I guess. :)

Griddy
4 years 6 months ago
@wabbitoid That’s a great way to put it as well Erik – thanks :). And you’re right – people tend to appreciate you referring others to them and they may just to do the same one day. But I always like to make sure that if I’m going to refer someone to someone else – that they’re capable of doing a good job/qualified enough. And if I’m not 100% sure – I tell them that I know this other person does this but I’ve never worked with them or so forth….You know what I mean? Thanks for joining in Erik.… Read more »
Griddy
4 years 6 months ago

@trontastic@wabbitoid Hahaha! You’d be surprised by how many times I’ve had friends/clients ask me to do or help with their “homework” Levi. And if you only heard some of the reasons I got too!

trontastic
trontastic
4 years 6 months ago

@Griddy@wabbitoid I think thats a whole other post in and of itself. “Top 5 Excuses I’ll Use to Get You To Do My Homework”

Griddy
4 years 6 months ago

@trontastic@wabbitoid Why my dear Levi – I think you might just be on to something there ;)! Care to do the honors?

trontastic
trontastic
4 years 6 months ago

@Griddy Thank you for considering me for this opportunity but unfortunately I’m unable to do so. however, @balemar is an excellent writer and someone I believe beyond capable of exceeding your needs.

Griddy
4 years 6 months ago

@trontastic@balemar Brilliantly put LOL! Looks like you could have written this post as well :))).

rachelrodenborg
rachelrodenborg
4 years 6 months ago

Sometimes you just have to say, “No.” If your gut goes off when you start pondering a project, it’s a great reason to evaluate the opportunity and, if “no” is the answer, decline the offer. This is a powerful thing to do–take control of your own destiny and choose exactly who you work with.

Finding an alternative is an excellent practice as well. Someone else gets the work, the person who asked gets their work done, and you recognized and listened to that inner voice that -just knows- the right decision….if you listen to it. Great post! Cheers. Rachel

Brankica
4 years 6 months ago

I am not going to read this blog for the next 18 months until you allow Ingrid to come back!

@Griddy just what I needed :) especially love the “updated contract” thing

Griddy
4 years 6 months ago

@Brankica Hahahaha! I knew I could count on you! We should get a petition going to boycott this blog until Aunt Gini allows me to come back – in at least 17 months hahaha ;).

As for the updated contract thing – I’m going through this right now – and like I said in the post – it’s something that I have difficulty doing – especially when a client is a friend. I still haven’t said anything though.

Raj-PB
4 years 6 months ago
One of the questions that I got asked during a job interview was, ‘You have sent a wrong proposal to a customer. How do you handle this situation?” I was quite taken aback, and explained to them that I would have to personally call the customer and apologies for making that mistake and request them not to consider it. During the job, I found out that I had to do it over and over again that I became proficient in the art of regretting! It comes quite handy while saying No. I mean, you can’t say those two words but… Read more »
Raj-PB
4 years 6 months ago
One of the questions that I got asked during a job interview was, ‘You have sent a wrong proposal to a customer. How do you handle this situation?” I was quite taken aback, and explained to them that I would have to personally call the customer and apologies for making that mistake and request them not to consider it. During the job, I found out that I had to do it over and over again that I became proficient in the art of regretting! It comes quite handy while saying No. I mean, you can’t say those two words but… Read more »
Brankica
4 years 6 months ago

@Griddy It is hard to say no to a friend… But, yes, boycott is in place!

Griddy
4 years 6 months ago
@Raj-PB Many often say that “less is more” – and although there’s a lot of truth to that (even though I”m more of a “more” girl when it comes to writing lol) – saying no sometimes needs a little back up. Sure we can simply say No thanks as well – but I think each situation is different and we have to be able to asset it as well as the person we are talking to. It’s not so much about rambling on – but more about being clear – and of course concise. It seems that all those short… Read more »
Griddy
4 years 6 months ago

@Brankica LOL! Wait till Gini says NOooooooooo! 😉

trontastic
trontastic
4 years 6 months ago

@Griddy gave us 5 awesome ways, please allow me to offer a few more (there are some good ones in here)… http://ifaq.wap.org/society/sayno.html

John Garrett
4 years 6 months ago
Very impressive post, Ingrid! I’ll have to put these on my phone so I can read from it when necessary It seems like #5 is always coming up in my projects. Even when the scope is supposedly nailed down sometimes you just can’t control the direction a project takes. I usually use a variation of 3 and 5. I’ll say in a nice way that it’s not a part of the current scope of the project. If it’s something I can recommend someone for I’ll do that. If I don’t know anyone in the field I’ll leave it up to… Read more »
Griddy
4 years 6 months ago

@trontastic LMAO!!!! ;)) Seriously – still laughing! I can’t even decide which one I like best – but I sure as heck am excited to use a couple. I have a couple that use as well when I’m in my sarcastic mood (not for work of course – cough!).

Thanks so much for the link!

TheJackB
4 years 6 months ago

Sometimes no is the most important thing you can say. When I worked as a project manager for a contractor clients always tried to include additional items in the scope of work which is why I used a very detailed contract.

it made life much less complex than it could have been.

Griddy
4 years 6 months ago
@TheJackB It’s funny Jack – because I’d like to think that my proposals are rather detailed but somehow people conveniently omit reading the fine print – even when it’s in BOLD! Also – I have a lot more trouble saying no…. when the client is also a friend – which is sometimes the case. But you’re right – the more detailed the contract, the less of that happening I guess. How have you been? Hope all is going well on your end. Forgive my falling short of visiting and commenting on your blog the last months – I’ve kinda been… Read more »
Griddy
4 years 6 months ago
@TheJackB It’s funny Jack – because I’d like to think that my proposals are rather detailed but somehow people conveniently omit reading the fine print – even when it’s in BOLD! Also – I have a lot more trouble saying no…. when the client is also a friend – which is sometimes the case. But you’re right – the more detailed the contract, the less of that happening I guess. How have you been? Hope all is going well on your end. Forgive my falling short of visiting and commenting on your blog the last months – I’ve kinda been… Read more »
Lisa Gerber
4 years 6 months ago
I was asked to volunteer my time to help my good friends who are involved in an AMAZING cause. It would be a major undertaking. I love my friends, and I love the cause, but if I said yes, I’d let people down in the end. There is just no way. As hard as it is, it’s a lot easier to say no, now and deliver the right expectations than to let the situation get worse. And interestingly, I was inputting your lovely and very brief guest post during the minutes prior to our meeting. So thanks for getting in… Read more »
Lisa Gerber
4 years 6 months ago

@Brankica even on the day your post is published????

Lisa Gerber
4 years 6 months ago

@Raj-PB wow!!! No wonder they asked the question in the interview! sheesh!

Lisa Gerber
4 years 6 months ago

@rachelrodenborg so. true. We must obey the gut.

SocialMediaDDS
4 years 6 months ago

Hi @Griddy These five tips are excellent and they can work in the non-business world as well! With some linguistic modification, those of us who have a hard time saying no in life (I’m speaking on behalf of my third cousin’s neighbor’s daughter…really…) 😉 can maybe suck it up and JUST SAY NO!! ( cough…just practicing) Thanks for a great post…loved it and … ginidietrich I think the post was the perfect length 😉

Claudia

Brankica
4 years 6 months ago

@Lisa Gerber Yes, unless @Griddy gives me a day release off boycott :))))))

Brankica
4 years 6 months ago

@Griddy@trontastic OMG that is hilarious :)

Griddy
4 years 6 months ago

@Brankica@trontastic I Know! I can’t pick which one is my favorite!!!!

Griddy
4 years 6 months ago

@Lisa Gerber@Raj-PB LOL! Nothing like being prepared to errrr eh? :)

Griddy
4 years 6 months ago

@Lisa Gerber@Raj-PB LOL! Nothing like being prepared to errrr eh? :)

Griddy
4 years 6 months ago

@Brankica@Lisa Gerber I’m thinking it should be a day or two after Bran – what do you think? lol

Griddy
4 years 6 months ago

@rachelrodenborg Hey Rachel. You’re right about listening to your gut – if only I had done that more often I wouldn’t be doing tedious tasks or unrelated ones for that matter as I’m doing now. Well – sure they’re related, but they’re just not being compensated in any way.

As for the alternative – you’re absolutely right – it’s a win-win for everyone I suppose.

Thanks for the excellent advice Rachel. Much appreciated.

Have a great evening.

Cheers

Griddy
4 years 6 months ago
@SocialMediaDDSginidietrich I’m sorry Dr. Claudia – all I can focus on is you telling Gini that the post was the perfect length HAHAHA. I don’t know you that well yet but I like you already :)))!! As for these tips working in the non-business world as well – you’re absolutely right. A couple of the examples I had in mind when writing this post weren’t work related. And much like your 3rd cousin’s neighbor’s daughter (cough, cough and cough) – I have trouble saying no at times. For some reason I choke up during certain instances – but then there… Read more »
Lori
4 years 6 months ago
Hi Griddy! Those are some masterful ways to say no! Like @SocialMediaDDS I’m thinking of social situations, projects or even school commitments. I can see their application in the business world, but I’m part pf a two-man family team and I don’t have trouble saying no to my husband! This post should be bookmarked and referenced by anyone starting out in their career! By the way, I’ve used #2 at times when a telemarketer phoned. Or I’ll say, “sorry, I’m in the middle of something at the moment.” Note to telemarketers – if you’d first say, “Have I caught you… Read more »
nittyGriddyBlog
nittyGriddyBlog
4 years 6 months ago

@sherree_w Hi Sherree – thanks a lot for RTing my GP over at Spin Sucks. I appreciate it and I’m glad you enjoyed it :). Cheers

KrisSchindler
4 years 6 months ago

Heading into 2011, one of my resolutions was to say “no” more often. These tactics helped me refocus. Thanks!

balemar
balemar
4 years 6 months ago

@trontastic@Griddy LOVE this! Hahahahaa!

balemar
balemar
4 years 6 months ago

@trontastic@Griddy Oh my goodness! I leave for the day, come back and you assign me work? 😉 I see how it goes. Levi – I’m not doing your homework for you!

balemar
balemar
4 years 6 months ago

@Griddy Thanks! Hope you had a great Monday. :) Keep going to the beat of your own drum. I love your conversational style.

balemar
balemar
4 years 6 months ago

@Griddy Thanks! Hope you had a great Monday. :) Keep going to the beat of your own drum. I love your conversational style.

Nikki_Little
4 years 6 months ago
The word “no” did not enter my vocabulary until recently, and I’m sure glad it has. Not that I particularly enjoy telling someone I can’t give my all to their project, but it’s helping me prioritize my activities…and remain sane! Like you suggested, I’ve found that either recommending someone else or saying that you can’t take on such a huge commitment, but you CAN help by doing X and X are both effective responses. If you can even help in a small way, people are still appreciative. I just wrote a post saying how important it is to spend time… Read more »
JGoldsborough
4 years 6 months ago

@Nikki_Little Good points all around, NL.

JGoldsborough
4 years 6 months ago

@Lisa Gerber The post really was too brief. I could’ve read another 1,000 words or so of @Griddy ‘s knowledge. Right, gini dietrich :).

JGoldsborough
4 years 6 months ago
So here’s my debate on this one. A mentor once told me that the way he made a name for himself was by raising his hand to take on whatever task anyone needed help with to show he was reliable. I have to admit, I have seen this approach work. Many times. But I also find myself spread to thin at times as well. Makes for a quandry. I’m guessing the more we prove ourselves, the less hand raising we have to do? But still, I see people reinforce the “he’s/she’s always willing to help out” POV all the time.… Read more »
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