They say you write the advice you need to hear and here is definitely some advice I have needed in my career.
Saying no is problematic, sometimes uncomfortable and can be a bit awkward. How do you navigate this tiny word.
2. The “Because, But” – a handy method to turn the dreaded no on its head. Thank you Martine Bolton for this little gem.
“Because I have a heavy workload right now, I can’t support you, but I am happy to review in a month or suggest another colleague for the opportunity.”
You don’t say no, you explain why and offer a solution.
3. The Promise – I like this one because it is person-centered and you just can’t argue with it. Thanks Jane Cooke, I’m totally stealing this example you shared with me.
“I have made a promise to myself that I won’t book any 121 meetings this month as I need space to complete tasks. I hope you understand. Let’s get back in touch next month.”
4. The Review – businesses evolve and so do your services. This is a staple of mine.
“I have been reviewing my current services which appear to be developing in new and different areas. While I’d love to support you with this task it’s not where my current focus is.”
5. Non Committal – I wouldn’t really recommended this no as its a bit flaky but…
“I’m not too sure, maybe. Can I come back to you?”
6. Resource – we are only human and only have so much capacity. If you are a small start up this can be your go to until you hire or subcontract work out.
“Being a small business I don’t have the resource to complete this activity right now.”
7. The Alternative – the nice thing about this approach is you showcase your expertise. Clients might want one thing but you might know a way to do it quicker or cost effectively. It might be less workload so you could say yes.
“Thanks so much for thinking of me for this project, I can’t quite offer what you require here but can offer XXX which in my experience could yield similar results.”
8. Right Fit – this can work in a couple of ways in terms of you not being the right fit or the project not being the right fit…
“I’m not sure I’m the right fit for this right now but I think I know someone who might be.”
9. No – firm but fair particularly if you are 100% sure.
“No unfortunately I can’t consider this right now and don’t want to waste your time.”
I would suggest that your no should always come from a place of professionalism and avoid making personal statements even if you don’t like the person.
Other professional no reasons could include…
- Dissimilar ways of working
- Geographical locations
- Off brand
- Level of expertise
I would never get into difficulties and say no in relation to anything personal such as…
- Potential negative association
- Age, gender, sexuality, disability, religious belief, race etc.
- That you don’t like them
Knowledge of the required timelines is key to negotiating a response and might make the process easier. So try to buy yourself time by asking questions around the clients expectation.
Offering a solution is a great way to ease the no process but only if it doesn’t increase your workload. Having a big network to pass work too is definitely an asset here.