If you are someone who seeks a lot of approval, favour, or recommendation from people, there’s probably one huge mistake you have been making – and for me, it took a lot of time before I realized this myself.

Most people make this mistake without even realizing it and what it does in the long run.

What is this mistake?

I always said, “Yes” – Especially when it came to closing business deals.

When I realized this and stopped saying “Yes”, things began to change. My services became valuable, I had happier clients, and personally I was able to take my stand on decisions.



Why Do People Say Yes?

You want to please people, and at the same time, you want their approval. This was the same reason I kept saying Yes.

And believe me or not, if you keep saying yes just to please people, it won’t make them happy. People are hard to please. In fact, it will make them upset the more.

I’m not asking you to be an “Anti-Yes Advocate”. There is always a time to say Yes, and a time to say No.

Sometimes, people ask for unrealistic things. It could be asking for a huge discount on a service you offer or a product you sell, the type that makes you incur loss.

It may even be at your place of work. Your boss asks you to complete a very huge task within a very short time frame – which by your estimation isn’t possible. Now if you had to say yes to that, it could make things worse. Your boss gets upset at you for being unreliable (which you could have controlled from the start).

Now, I’m not saying you should give your boss an “ABSOLUTE NO” when the odds won’t come through. You have to be very creative about your response to tasks that are impossible.

Why say Yes to your client when you know reducing your price beyond the normal will cost you money and won’t even give you the motivation and resources to perform the job well. In the long run, you will regret your decision, and your prospects will be upset with you due to poor performance and low-quality delivery.



What Should You Say Instead?

Capital “NO!” – with a lot of creative reasons as well though. The word “NO” won’t make you look inferior, low-quality or annoying as long as you use it the right way.

At my Digital Agency, Narv Digital, clients ask for discounts almost every time. Imagine being asked for a discount of $100 for a service of almost $250. If I had to take that offer, and the client begins to bring in more jobs and recommendations from others – that’s a recurrent loss for the Agency.

But now, we say, “NO” and explain kindly,

We can’t go down in price currently. We charge as much as this because we know what it takes and the resources we pay for to provide results, and if we had to go down in price, we won’t be able to meet your expectation.

It may be uncomfortable to respond to clients like this, but trust me, it has done wonders for my business in the long run.

Even when your boss asks you to complete a task that isn’t realistic, you should say something like…

I want to help you get the task done, and I don’t mind working extra hours, but it won’t be feasible for me to meet your deadline. The reason being is because of X, Y, and Z. If it is more important to complete this task than the current tasks I am working on, I can always push them back if you are open to it. Or if we can reduce the scope of the project, I may be able to get it done within Y time frame.

I repeat, when it comes to your boss, you will need to be creative. Don’t say No just because you are just lazy or if you are a slow worker. Don’t say No when someone else can complete that task within or before the speculated time given to you in the first place.

Say No only when it makes sense.



What About Golden Opportunities?

Playing hard to get helps in the long run – that’s if you have something to actually play hard for.

Don’t play hard to get when you are given a golden job opportunity, and you ideally have no source of income, idea, or business you are even running in the first place. You’d shoot yourself in the leg.

For a good example,

I once received a call from a friend who had contact with the CEO of a web development startup. She said the company needed a web developer immediately and the basic pay was capped at N1,000,000 annual base salary with bonuses. I was about to be employed with just word-of-mouth recommendation.

I wasn’t going through any hectic interview or anything. The CEO had viewed my portfolio from his source and was okay with that.

She gave me the whole news about this opportunity excitedly, and what did I say? Calmly, I said “No!”

At the time, I had a job and worked in an environment I was actually okay with, and my side business was bringing even more than my paycheck. I could literally quit and focus on my business, but I stayed still because I still had a lot to learn anyway.

I made the request of working as a Remote Developer for them, but still the answer was No. They wanted me in-house and they were ready to bring up my pay if the former wasn’t convenient.

I finally concluded I would help get some who would meet their expectation for free, because in the long run, my answer was No.

I couldn’t possibly leave where I was, jump to someplace else. I didn’t know their work ethics yet, how suitable the environment was, and many other things. I was just comfortable with my coding dojo and though change should be part of the big picture, it just wasn’t time yet.

You’re probably not going to have the same experience as I did (at least not yet if you are starting out), but when you start saying no you’ll begin to have similar experiences.

People will more likely work with you and pay your price if you hold your ground.




Saying yes to gain people’s favour, recommendation or approval will make your life miserable in the long run.

Stop saying yes to everything.

I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true.

Starting from today, I want you to try something new.

When someone asks you for something that is unreasonable, or asks you to do something that wouldn’t really benefit you, just say no. You should provide an explanation and potentially even provide an alternative solution.

Just make sure you are not boxed into the low-game.

Yes, this sounds crazy, but it works. Just like anything else, it takes practice and you’ll get better at it over time.

So, are you going to start saying “no” now?


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