Opinion: There's No Need to be Afraid of Saying No to Opportunities

Rob Hourmont

You give your little finger and they want to take your whole hand.

FrustratedRob Hourmont

I’ve been reading about saying no more frequently of late than about saying yes.

It’s a strange concept to me as I tend to always want to say yes and give far more than was agreed.

I’ve always been a strong believer in saying yes. I went so far, many years ago to make table stands and put them on my employees’ desk that read: “always say YES.”

My thinking, of course, was to motivate staff to always be positive, helpful and do whatever it takes to make customers happy.

Now in later life, while I do believe in making the customer happy, that must come with some clear boundaries, as if not, you’re simply going to get the run around and get used.

Naturally, the same went for me and my attitude towards staff, in that I pushed them and always expected more, which, often didn’t resonate well with them.

Many times, this would lead to resignations as folks just didn’t think the sacrifice was worth it, both in money and happiness terms.

Today, in my new life I understand this much better than before, as I’ve been serving clients directly and personally for some 6 years.

I always go out of my way to make my clients happy, spending far more time than agreed to help them reach their goals.

If you give too much, something strange happens.

People start to see it as normal and take it for granted. The result being they want and expect more, and if you don’t give it, they can get annoyed.

Paradoxically, the more available you make yourself, which equates to being more helpful, the more is expected, and when not given, that kind gesture of yours turns against you.

I’ve experienced this phenomenon on several occasions in the last months and years, personally and in business.

For me this is always very surprising, as I’d expected the opposite to be the case, such as:

“Wow, this guy is doing a great job, I’m so lucky to have him with me.”

That tends to be the case until you say, no. Once that happens the climate changes and you can feel the vibes have shifted into a negative.

Let me give some examples:

I’d accept for clients to move appointments to suit their schedule better. Many times, they did this last minute, which would cause near to impossible scheduling conflicts and more problems for me.

Once I started accepting schedule changes, it became the norm, with it happening frequently, until I said no, I can’t do that, sorry.

Please stick to the agreed schedule or give me at least 3 days’ notice of a change request. In some cases, they had given me 1 hour!

Recently a large hotel group showed interest in my services for their new gym and spa. I met them, we talked, all seemed on the right track until they sent me a big spread sheet containing 2 years’ worth of sales projections to complete.

I looked at this, and figured it would take me a day to produce — I wondered why I should do this. I hadn’t had the final interview as yet, and had not received their official offer, nor did I even really know what they wanted from me.

I said no, I’m sorry, but I’m very busy with my work and I feel this is jumping the gun in any case. I haven’t met the decision makers and don’t have an offer to consider.

I walked away from this project. I felt used before it even started.

The list goes on over time, but I don’t want to bore you with that.

Learning to way up opportunities, quantify them and say no.

I’m busy as it is, so if I were to take on a new project, I’d have to be damned sure it’s a great one that works for me, not just for them.

I’d always say yes, and that’s gotten me into unnecessary trouble in the past. Recently I’ve embraced the thought of saying no with open arms.

Quantify and qualify anything before getting in too deep, and make sure it’s good for you.

Final thoughts.

Other people often want more from you, and it doesn’t matter one little bit how generous and helpful you’ve already been.

If that situation occurs nowadays, it’s a warning signal: red flag. So, I back off and out as quickly as possible.

Weigh up your value and how you want to be perceived and respected is up to you. Saying yes to others’ pressure isn’t the way to go.

Being honest to yourself and others is. Valuing yourself, work and time more, is vital to optimize your productivity and growth.


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