I used to hate telling people “no”. I let people borrow my car, take my belongings, exhausted myself with favors, charged far less than I was worth- all in the name of sparing hurt feelings and, in my head, preserving relationships. Well, most people took what they wanted and left, leaving me feeling empty and depleted with no time or energy to do the things I wanted to do for myself. My penchant for people pleasing was so bad that on the rare occasions I would say “no”, simply because what was being asked of me wasn’t possible, I would be chastised for it.
And I can’t blame anyone but myself for any of it.
While I’ve had plenty of wake up calls along the way, the biggest ones came when I first began offering services. I undercharged, which was my fault, and said yes to anything that was asked of me…also my fault. Don’t want to sign my contract? Ok, sure. Don’t want to pay a deposit? Yeah, why not? Want me to do something completely out of the realm of the outlined project? Alrighty, sounds good! I was just happy that people trusted me with their projects. That is, until I looked at my bills, then at my bank account, then back at my bills. I realized I was working around the clock, over working myself actually, for nothing…and this feeling was confirmed when I actually heard people say different variations of “Jacque would work for nothing”. Those words stung my ears like bees and made me sit and reevaluate my entire process.
Real life footage of me trying to figure this thing out.
I found myself juggling too many clients and projects, saying yes to everything, and under performing because I couldn’t keep up but needed to try in order to pay my bills. I was setting myself up for failure and creating a reputation as a cheap option, which creates it’s own set of problems. I was stressed, broke, and drained but what saved me was saying “no”.
Yup. It has taken me years, but I’ve had to learn the hard way that “no” isn’t a bad word.
Saying “no” to people who ask you to do something you’re not comfortable with sets boundaries. Ex. “No we can not move forward without a contract”
Saying “no” when you’re short on time and can’t commit to something makes you more reliable in the end, and it actually avoids disappointment. Ex. “No I don’t think I can complete the proposed project by then, I definitely wouldn’t want to let you down!”
Saying “no” when saying “yes” would rob you of your joy improves your quality of life. Ex. “No I do not want to go there, it makes me uncomfortable.”
Saying “no” means you know yourself and you are aware of your limitations, which is a sign of maturity. Ex. “No, I can’t afford to do this right now.”
When you say “no” you’re not closing a door. You’re opening many more and letting the right opportunities, customers, clients, and friends enter your life.
Need some tips on how to up your “no” game? You know I’ve got you!
Have a clear policy and stick to it
It’s so much easier to say “no” when you can refer to your policy. If a customer or client wants something that you can’t do, politely point them in the direction of your company policy. In order for this to work you have to cover all your bases, create a clear policy, and be sure that the customer is aware of your policy before proceeding with the transaction or project. For Amadi Digital Boutique I send a contract and make my policy clear in email correspondences. For Adorned by Chi, I have a link to my shipping and returns policy right in the product description.
It’s ok to bend your rules every now and then but for the most part, stick to your policy. You made it for a reason, after all. You will be less stressed and your customers/clients will be happier in the end.
Offer an alternative
Instead of just saying “no” and leaving it there, offer an alternative. Maybe you can’t give a refund but you can offer an exchange. Or maybe you client roster is full, but you can send over some trusted referrals. And maybe that idea doesn’t quite match your brand but it could if a few things were possibly changed. Offering alternatives is a good way to turn what could be perceived as a negative (“no”), into a positive!
Are you also a recovering people pleaser? How have you learned to overcome and just say “no”? Leave tips down below!