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The Art Of Never Saying No, And The Reasons Why You Shouldn’t

Michelle Dale - Tuesday, February 28, 2012
One of the many things I have had to learn over the years, especially in my virtual assistant business, is knowing when I don’t want to engage myself with a certain client, or in a certain project. It’s not easy to learn how to say “No,” even when knowing in your heart of hearts that this is the right thing for you to do.

“No” is so negative, it’s a bit like saying “Thanks, But No Thanks.” I guess when you say “No” you feel like you’re letting people down, or maybe even in a way that you’re not adequate enough if you are simply unable to fulfil the needs of that client. I freely admit that I hate having to say no to people who need me, but also I have to take into consideration my own business and sanity first, primarily for the sake of me, my family and my clients. The outcome required from “No” is essential to any business.

Turn Around.

So one day, I realised that I was actually skilled enough to never have to say “No,” but still obtaining the same outcome as if I had… If not a better one! All of a sudden I could turn what could be seen as a negative situation to my advantage, and in the end it was easier than I thought, and it also made me a better, and more sought after online business consultant I think, because I could say “No” in a roundabout practical, professional and resourceful kind of way, and still be helpful. So now every circumstance that requires a blunt “No” from me turns into a challenge of my own skill, and a boost for my reputation as a quality service provider.

Obviously when you want to say no to someone, it means that any of the following may apply to the situation:

  1. You Simply Are Unable To Engage, For Whatever Reason.
  2. You Simply Don’t Want To Involve Yourself With The Work.
  3. You Simply Don’t Want To Involve Yourself With The Person.

If you want to say no, sure, go ahead, why not?.. What happens to the person you are saying “No” to of course is totally not your problem, you could say “No,” move on, wash your hands of it, and carry on regardless – but – for me, my conscience is a pain in the neck, and I still might be considering their issue some time later, so instead, I still like to assist them in some way on their journey to achieving a more successful outcome.

The Art Of Never Saying No.

Don’t  give people a dead end, give them a re-route, and a new way forward. Here is what I do, try it next time you get a situation you want to say “No” to.

When someone wants to work with me, and I can’t help them.

“Sure, let’s take a look at your request. First of all thanks so much for your interest and the opportunity, having looked at it, I won’t be able to do this for you directly, due to (capacity, capability etc…) I do know of someone who might be able to, would you like me to put you in contact with them?”

When I don’t want to work on the project or task.

“Thanks so much for thinking of me, sure, let’s see how I can help you with this. Whilst on this particular occasion I am unable to provide you directly with what you need, what I can do for you is recommend XYZ, which should help. I am copying them in on this email to see if this is something they can assist you with. Do let me know if I can be of further service to you in the future.”

When I don’t want to work with the person.

“I very much appreciate you thinking of me, but unfortunately I won’t be able to assist you further with this, what I can do for you however is offer some advice. If it was me, I would do XYZ.”

Most of the time, I get a very nice email come back thanking me for my help, even though I really just said No… But rather than cut a cord, I end up leaving an opening for a potential referral, or recommendation, or becoming the “Go To” person people tell their friends about, knowing full well, that even if I can’t help them myself, I may know someone or something that can (I usually do), meaning that as long as they keep coming back, there could be something I am able to do for them. Also by doing this, I may also be creating an opening for a colleague or acquaintance, so you never know what can come from it, maybe that colleague might also do the same for me one day.

So, I rarely say “No” these days, if at all, but instead, I demonstrate to people that I am capable of providing support, indirectly, and that is a very nice place to be in when it comes to reputation and doors opening up later on.

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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