The power of saying “no” is often an underused one. Over the past twenty-five years, I’ve encountered many situations in which it was very difficult for me to simply tell someone “no”. In these instances, I was so overwhelmed and so excited that an individual or group actually wanted to work with me that I accepted projects that weren’t great fits. I knew, deep down, that the timing was off or the participants weren’t qualified, but I went forward with the opportunity anyway. I felt that I didn’t have options and that I had to grab the sure thing when it was presented before me. And when you feel as though you don’t have options, you begin to act desperately.
I can’t lie to you. Some opportunities do arise once, and only once. But if you’re invested in this industry, if you stay in the game long enough, you WILL get more than one chance. Desperation is never attractive. And rarely will the ill-fitting project work out, in any event. I remember one particular client, a huge one that I wanted so badly. I couldn’t say “no” because I felt I’d never get the opportunity to work with them again. The project failed – my gut instinct had never led me astray. I just should have listened to it!
If a situation isn’t right, have the strength and the faith to accept that saying “no” may be the very best course of action. Explain why and how the situation doesn’t work for you. I have learned that fantastic things happen when you pass on an option. It’s amazing for bargaining and negotiating, for instance. Walking away puts you an entirely different and positive position of power. People may come back to you with different offers and the entire game plan itself may change. It’s impossible to know, for sure. Saying “no” is often a seemingly greater risk. Know that it’s not.