Learn How to Say ‘No’ to Eliminate Stress and Wasted Time

Learn How to Say ‘No’ to Eliminate Stress and Wasted Time

Think about how often you have said yes to a request in the last couple of months but wish you hadn’t. You may have arrived at a job, realised it wasn’t the right project for you, but you agreed to quote it anyway.

You may have agreed to a wage increase for an employee, but realised the increase was too great, and now you will likely need to increase the wages of some of your other employees. Or, you may have told a client you would help him out and fix an area of their backyard before Christmas, but with current projects taking longer, you don’t know how you can fit this job in.

It’s easy to say yes, and often so much harder to say no. So, why is that?

There are a few reasons behind our reluctance to say no:

  • We don’t want to let someone down
  • We feel cold-hearted or selfish
  • We are worried we might lose something we need
  • We think this could be a good opportunity for us


Step 1. Plan your weeks in advance so you know clearly when the next opening in your schedule is.

Step 2. Know exactly what type of job, and client, best suits you and your business.

Step 3. Qualify all potential clients by taking the time to ask them about their project. Follow some set questions and be in your office when talking to them, so that you aren’t distracted. If they want this project started soon and you have a full schedule, be honest and let them know it will be several months before you could begin work. If the project doesn’t suit you, thank them for contacting you, and let them know that their project wouldn’t be the project you specialise in.

Step 4. If it’s a past client that calls, politely let them know that the first opportunity to start another project will be in several months, but you will happily have a look at their proposed project in a few weeks in order to give them ideas and possibly quote it for them. I did say possibly, because if the project they described doesn’t suit you, you can then politely let them know it would be a project for another landscaping professional.


Saying no to an employee is a little trickier, as we don’t want to upset an employee and have them look for work elsewhere. So let’s put it into perspective: If you have a good relationship with an employee, they understand their role, and you show them respect and keep them well informed on projects, schedules and tasks in advance, then you shouldn’t be too worried about them deciding to go elsewhere.

However, regardless of how well they have been managed, when someone asks for a pay rise, you must take all discussions, agreements, current wage package, and their performance, into consideration, before you agree to increase their wage. A wage increase is always best linked to performance, so that the employee has something to work towards, and the increase has a measured value. If you feel given the current circumstances, a wage increase is in order, consider linking it to a performance development plan moving forward. For example, you can say – “Tom, I am prepared to sit down with you at the end of the month and discuss what you want, and my expectations, so we can find agreement. How does that sound?”


Explain to your client/prospect/mate the reason for your saying no but be sure to do so in a direct and assertive way. Remember that you don’t have to over explain your reasons.

We are all time poor, but we could be helping ourselves by scrutinizing what we agree to do. It will always feel so much better when we say no to the requests that don’t suit us or our business, leaving time to give attention to the important things.


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