Have you ever told your client no? If so, congratulations! If not, why not?

Maybe you never have, and you never needed to. That’s ok. Then the question becomes, would you tell a client no? If your answer is still no, then you are bound to end up in a bad situation at some point in your business.

In no way am I telling you to be rude or disrespectful to your clients, let me be clear. However, there are definitely times when saying no is not only acceptable, but it’s necessary. Here are several reasons and occasions when saying no to a client is a good thing, for both of you.

  1. The request goes against your values: let the client know where you stand and that you will not jeopardize your beliefs, but don’t sound judgemental.
  2. The request goes outside the scope of your contract: be sure to review the contract again for reassurance first, but once it is verified, explain the discrepancy to the client.
  3. The request requires more resources than the client anticipates or costs more than discussed: if the issue is cost, then explain what the market value is, but if the issue is the amount of people needed, explain that as well.
  4. The request would jeopardize the deadline of another project of theirs: remind the client of the other work you are doing for them and ask them which task will ultimately get dropped, while also giving your professional opinion.
  5. The request would not actually benefit the client in any way: explain to the client why the request is essentially of no value to them. In case the request holds emotional value, be sensitive in your explanation and have a more beneficial alternative in mind prior to the conversation.
  6. You don’t think you can complete the work requested: be honest and let your client know that you are simply not capable of doing the work they are asking for.

By telling your client “no” in these situations, you actually set yourself up in a much better position. You show your client that you mean business in the following ways.

  1. You gain higher esteem from your client as they will see that you’re not a pushover.
  2. By disagreeing with your client with facts, you are doing your job and being the expert on the subject.
  3. You protect yourself by not compromising your ethics and by not committing to things you know you can’t come through on.
  4. You maintain your personal integrity by being honest with your client. This will ultimately be a very valuable asset and they will always appreciate it.