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Updated 30 Sep 2020

Saying ‘no’ now could save you from headaches later

Here are a few tips on how to say no today, to avoid headaches in the future.

Ann Tran, Entrepreneur, 20 September 2014  Share  0 comments  Print

All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions

Everything from dealing with difficult people to bringing on challenging vendors and having uncomfortable conversation are all part of the growing pain process.

Nonetheless, you shouldn't allow people to take advantage of you. You need to set expectations early on in any relationship.

Here are a few tips on how to say no today, to avoid headaches in the future.

Explain your motives when saying no to request.

If you need to refuse a customer’s request, make it clear that it's not personal.

You’re making a business decision, so explain it that way, and emphasize how you both ultimately benefit. For instance, you could say that if you took on the project, you would not be able to devote as much time to it as you should.

Say no to public disagreements.

With social media becoming a huge resource for businesses, customers are also turning to these platforms to vent.

Do not comment on your disagreement publicly. This will reflect badly on you (even if you were right). People will avoid doing business with you if they think you have a tendency to complain about others.

Share your concerns directly with the person you have a conflict with and no one else (except maybe your mother). 

When an issue arises on social media, ask the unsatisfied customer to contact you direct via an email address or telephone number. Remember, if you don't resolve your disagreement now, resentment will result.

Also, set boundaries for any customer or client relationship, so all parties are on the same page.  By reducing the particulars to writing, you will reduce any chance of an unexpected or perceived misunderstanding.

Consider saying no to working with friends.

Seriously think about every possible scenario, before agreeing to work with a friend.  Disagreements can arise. Would you rather have a friendship that might last for years to come, or risk destroying the bond? List the pros and cons to help make your decision.

Get better at saying no to projects. You need to be strict about your time.

Sometimes, avoiding conflict with clients is as simple as sticking to a schedule. You need to learn to say no when a project doesn’t fit into your calendar. 

Make sure you set realistic delivery dates and insist that others respect your time. 

This is fundamental to prioritising your work, as overextending yourself won’t benefit anyone. (Your work will get sloppy too.)

If a customer seems peeved by your schedule, be transparent. Explain that you have other deadlines and projects, and they all need to fit into your calendar. Ultimately, your clients will embrace, respect and understand your need to balance your commitments.

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About the author

Ann Tran, Entrepreneur

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