W.A.G. Design | Is it OK to Say ‘No’ to Clients?

Is it OK to Say ‘No’ to Clients?


Kevin Ashton wrote a short piece called Creative People Say No.

Here’s a quick excerpt:

“We are not taught to say ‘no.’ We are taught not to say ‘no.’ ‘No’ is rude. ‘No’ is a rebuff, a rebuttal, a minor act of verbal violence. ‘No’ is for drugs and strangers with candy.

Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating. Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation. The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time. No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes.”

“‘No’ makes us aloof, boring, impolite, unfriendly, selfish, anti-social, uncaring, lonely and an arsenal of other insults. But ‘no’ is the button that keeps us on.”

It’s the same today. I accept about 5 or 10 percent of the projects I’m asked about. It takes a fair chunk of time replying to everyone, but being more selective means I’m a much better fit for the projects I agree to, I’m happier at work, and my clients get a better service.

When I started out I’d accept almost any job that came my way. But over time I learned how to choose clients more wisely — a huge help with stress levels.

As the late motivational writer Stephen R. Covey once said, “Doing more things faster is no substitute for doing the right things.”

Here a few other reads on the value of that little two letter word:

Setting boundaries and saying no… nicely, on 99U
Simple ways to say no, on zenhabits
Saying “no” by Jason Santa Maria

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