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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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