Can You Gracefully Say No?

Ilise BenunFrom my latest post in the InHOWse Interpersonal series, the question is how to say no.

It’s a little different for freelancers, right? You aren’t obligated to say “yes” like you are when it’s your job to do whatever you’re told. But many freelancers seem to behave that way anyway, saying yes when they really should say no.

What phrases have you used to gracefully decline a project?

3 thoughts on “Can You Gracefully Say No?

  1. Alisa Bonsignore

    I’ve put a CFC phrase to good use: “I’m sorry, but I just don’t think you’ve allocated enough (resources/time) for this project. These constraints won’t allow us to create the kind of deliverable that either of us will be proud of.”

    Sometimes it gets their attention and they reconsider. Sometimes they just walk away. Either way, if I find that I’m saying those words I know that it’s not the kind of project that I want to work on as-is.

  2. Diane Stewart

    I recently said the same as Alisa’s comment. When they replied back (a bit argumentative) I just told them, “I’m sorry, but it’s not a good business decision for me.” I’ve learned over the years, it’s OK to say no. If you don’t say no, when you know you should, you don’t leave room for the right job to present itself.

  3. Neil Renicker

    I think this sort of phrase is helpful: “Based on [these reasons], I don’t think we’ll be a good fit for each other”. This puts the emphasis on our incompatibility instead of attacking the client. It’s a kind way to share blame.