Saying No


So I seem to be doing a lot of reflective posts lately and this is about saying no and how saying no is a massive strength and something that I don’t think any of us give ourselves credit for.  That could be by being able to utilise experiences that we’ve had; whether that be financially, emotionally, physically, to react to situations that we have been in before. I think we all like to think that, ‘We wouldn’t do that again!’  But I think it’s quite often the case that you do. Because, there are two of you; the devil and the angel on your shoulders. One’s going, ‘Yep, yep, yeah, this is great, this is great, this is great,’ and the other one’s going, ‘Naahh.’ And it depends on the day, it depends on how much you listen to one or listen to the other. ‘Ooooh, they’re not going to be like that again,’ ‘Ooooh, they’re going to pay you on time, this time.’ And by kind of listening to one or the other, you can put yourself in a hole, one way or the other. You’re kind of repeating the thing and six months later you’ve got a lot of stress and hassle on the back of a decision made.  Or the other side, you say no to something and then you’ve kind of got that little bit of regret of, ‘Well, maybe I should have done that.’

I suppose being able to say no to things has come a lot easier now. I know what I do now.  I’m not chasing for, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll do anything, I’ll do anything, I’ll do anything,’ and there’s plenty of things that I won’t do shoots-wise. Because either it doesn’t click with me, I don’t feel as though my skills are that well suited to it, but also clients come into it. So, if I’m working for a client and it’s been a bit of a difficult one; maybe they didn’t quite get what they wanted or they were incredibly pedantic about certain things that were really outside of control. I think being able to bring that into it and kind of going, ‘Is this opportunity that’s presented to me actually an opportunity or is it a potential for extra stress and hassle?’ That’s over and above any kind of daily decision you make that could potentially cause stress and hassle.

But, it’s about making the decisions informed decisions. Over the last two years since Covid, I’m in a lot better position mentally to be able to say no – politely, obviously and how I decide to reply in totality may dictate whether I’m going to work with that client again in the future or potentially could work in the future. If it’s one-off jobs, that I’m never going to see again, it’s a lot easier to say no to. If it’s a potential for an ongoing relationship, ‘That could be great, it could be this, it could be that.’ You’ve got to look at that differently. But I think the skill of being able to go, ‘No. No, but this,’ or, ‘No, how about this?’ or you know, ‘Could we do this instead?’ kind of thing and then kind of being in a position of strength to be able to do that, but in the knowledge that the skillset and financials will allow.

I think I’ve often been the advocate of just saying yes to lots of things and how many of them do I regret? I don’t know, there’s not many. There is a handful obviously, like everybody in their business, there will be the odd things that you go, ‘Argghhhh, I shouldn’t have done that!’ But they are life lessons and they are things that push you forward. I mean there’s are some of the bigger ones that really cause scars, they’re a bit harder to kind of look back on and go, ‘If only I’d… ’ I’m not one for looking back in that sense and kind of over-analysing what’s gone on. I tend to over-analyse going forward. The potential of what could happen, you know? ‘Ooooh, what’s the seven million connotations on the back of a decision?’ And in that way I think my thoughts are always quite lined up when a so-called opportunity presents itself to be able to analyse it, over-analyse it and at least come out the other side of it, knowing that the decision I made was brought to with knowledge and not just a reactionary, ‘Yes, yeah of course, yeah, yeah, I’ll do that, yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll do that.’ And then you end up with the stress and hassle that goes with it.

I don’t mind losing out on work if it’s price. I can never know fully, even after asking what a client’s real budget is. They might give you an indication, but it’s not always easy to pin people down to a number. Because even if you give them a number and somebody else gives one £300 cheaper, they’re going to look at it, you know? And I’m not in a world to race to the bottom, I need to justify the time I spend on things, the amount of money I can associate with those things. So, I can’t do a day’s work for a tenner. And if that client has only got a tenner, it doesn’t matter what I say, or what I do, they’ve only got a tenner. They might say to me, ‘Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll pay you a couple of hundred quid,’ but actually, if they’ve only got a tenner, they’re not going to tell you. That’s what you’re competing against and I think that standing firm on price and saying, ‘No, no, that’s where I’m at. It needs to be that to cover my time,’ then that’s a strong position to be in. It’s a positive position to be in and one strength that a lot of business owners don’t always acknowledge.

I think we all do it, I think that we all have opportunities every week, where we quote for things, or we maybe look at it and go, ‘Ooooh maybe not quite… if it was this much money then maybe.’  So you might quote high for things that need that bit extra work, if you do get it then great, you can kind of get your head round it, but if not, you know what? It’s alright.  So, how often do you say it though? I think I’m getting better at saying it’s a diary clash or something. That’s always been my challenge; even if I mentally deliver on the job, I certainly will physically be there and I think it’s often for me to throw extra things in that I can just about do all the things in time, but because of the tight deadlines, it’s on that line of, ‘Arrrgh’ and I think I need to get better at allowing time to dictate things a little bit more and not upsetting people which is obviously my ultimate goal.

I think the strength in saying no is really important so dare I ask?  Do you feel you’ve said no enough this year? Because in the past, I would have said yes to everything because a lot of people say no to a lot of things that they maybe should say yes to.  But I think it’s the opposite. It’s getting deeper under that opportunity because I think the opportunity is always seen in a positive light. ‘Oooh, this is an opportunity for this.’ And I always say now, it’s not an opportunity if there’s a massive, big bag of potential chaos associated with it, irrespective of the money, irrespective of the name of the client.  Ultimately, if it’s good fun but undue stress and hassle on you, it’s not bad to say no to it and go, ‘Yeah, that’s all right.’

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