Why You’re Unable to Say No to Clients

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You are standing in front of a potential client. They just explained what they want from their next project and they want you to do it. The thing is that your expertise and staff don’t perfectly match their requirements. Plus, you already have loads of work and it would take a miracle to deliver everything on time.

What’s your answer?

YES! Sure, I can do it.

It seems like even though everything should lead you to say No, you just can’t seem to be able do it.

We tried to figure out what’s up with this No-phobia that a lot of people seem to have. Here are some thoughtful reasons:


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Fear of missing out can be found in all parts of our lives. From parties that you are anxious to miss, to checking your social media account every 10 minutes (or less) so that no notification is overseen. When it comes to business, saying No to clients can activate your FOMO.

What if I am missing an opportunity?
What if this project will make me famous?
Could this be the project that will take our business to the next level?

I missed out — this simple sentence strikes such anxiety in your heart that it can freeze your judgement when faced with decisions.

Let go of these negative thoughts. Look on the bright side and be kind to yourself. Turning down a project with obvious challenges will allow you the time to be more effective in your existing projects and give you space to be creative or take that next better project. You’ll soon realise your fear was misplaced and you might even be able to enjoy the ride of not knowing what’s coming next. Feel the joy of missing out. JOMO, it’s a thing!

You want to please everyone

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There is nothing wrong with wanting to please everyone. You just need to know when to stop. It seems like when it comes to business, very few people know when and how to stop. This leads to saying Yes to some projects that you can’t or don’t know how to do, just to please your client.

One of the main reasons why you keep wanting to please everyone is that, deep down inside, you don’t trust yourself that much, both as a person and as a professional. Saying Yes makes your client appreciate you, thus you feel more confident. You say Yes because you want constant confirmation from the ones around you. Confirmation that you are worthy, you are a good business person, you can deliver everything.

Next time you find yourself wanting to unnecessarily please a client, take a step back and a deep breath. Remember that saying Yes to this particular client won’t change the way your company is perceived. Think about your years of experience in the industry and understand that you are in this position because you are worth it.

Moreover, if you properly communicate to the client that the refusal is driven by your commitment to excellent results, you will most likely gain their further trust and respect.

You are afraid of conflict

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If you hate the tension of conflict, then most probably, you are willing to make a compromise and just say Yes even to projects and clients that you know you can’t deal with. You just say what they want to hear because the pressure of an uncomfortable dialogue is too much.

This is a slippery slope. Saying yes over and over again just to avoid a conflict will make you feel frustrated. More than that it will have a negative impact on communicating with that specific person and your work will probably be unsatisfactory.

Conflict doesn’t have to be negative. If you handle it right, it can actually lead to a more trusting and productive working relationship. You just have to know how to say things that are uncomfortable so that the other person doesn’t feel offended in any way.

If the conflict can’t be diffused the first thing to do is acknowledge it. Don’t pretend it’s okay. Try to understand the roles you and the other person have played in creating or sustaining the conflict and focus on the problem. Most of the times when we are involved in a conflict we tend to focus on the problem itself. If it’s not personal, don’t make it personal. Otherwise it can lead to more anger from both sides.

You don’t have a realistic view of future time

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According to psychology, the reason you say Yes and overcommit is because you expect to have more time in the future than you do in the present. A certain amount of wishful thinking tends to get embedded in every future plan. What happens next is that tomorrow becomes today and yesterday’s idealistic projection becomes today’s burden.

Researchers found that we are more often wrong when we talk about future time than when we talk about future money. Our thoughts are more realistic about the money that we expect from clients in the future, but we seem to be continuously mistaken about the future time. The reason why this happens is because every day’s a little different. The nature of time fools us and we forget about how many little things fill our days.

Having a distorted perspective of time happens to everyone and makes you much more optimistic when talking about delivering products and services. Next time you estimate a new project, maybe add an extra week to that deadline to make sure you can deliver on time.

You don’t know your limits

You don’t know your limits until you push them — that is entirely true. Most of the times this is very good advice, but when it comes to clients, not knowing your limitations translates into saying Yes a hundred times. You don’t know how much to push yourself and you accept everything the client demands not realising that work is already overwhelming.

The key word here is potential. You do have the potential to achieve a stretching goal, but it’s impossible to guarantee that internal and external circumstances will all conspire to allow it. No need to feel bad about this, just accept it and plan for average achievement. Should inspiration decide to pay you a visit while you are working and give you a windfall, let that be a pleasant surprise.

It’s important to know yourself and your company. It’s important to know the limitations in which you and your team can play. Accept the fact that there are some things you can’t do (at the present moment) and others that you are great at.

Now, don’t get us wrong, we don’t suggest you always take the easy way out and say No to all challenging projects, but what we can do is enable you to say a meaningful Yes by using SuperOkay — the first tool that will help you write better project requirements together with your clients and make more realistic and accurate estimates. SuperOkay works in a collaborative and transparent manner that inspires trust and professionalism.

Using SuperOkay will not only save you time, but will also give you and your clients a more realistic and transparent way to plan and track your progress.

Are you already using a Client Portal? SuperOkay gives you 1 client portal free forever to start creating professional-looking Client Portals, custom branded to your clients’ brands – Start today by clicking here!

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