This week I'm introducing my first guest blogger, author Peter Post, who is not only an etiquette expert and co-director for The Emily Post Institute, but is also...my dad.
by Peter Post
As a business person, I feel the pull to be everything to everyone. Yes, we can do a seminar next week. Yes, we can meet that price point. Yes, we can add another short session at no additional charge. Yes, we can! It’s easy to say yes in the short term and pay the price in the long run.
Most people, including savvy business people, don’t like to say “No, thank you.” But think about this: saying no can be the considerate and honest thing to do. The people affected by your decision deserve to know where you stand as quickly as possible. It doesn’t represent you or your company well to say yes initially and then either change your position later, or have to deliver on a promise that doesn’t benefit you.
Consider these tips to create positive relationships without having to say yes.
before you act. In most cases, you do not need to give an immediate answer.
Weigh your options and understand your limits, such as time, money, or interest.
“That’s a great question, Ms. Carerra. I want to be really thoughtful in giving
you an answer. Can I call you next week to talk about this?”
the positive; answer respectfully. Show you appreciate a proposal even if
you do have to turn it down: “I appreciate that you brought this opportunity to
us. I’m sorry we can’t work together this time, but we’d be interested in
hearing from you next year.”
- Give a
reason when possible. When you can give a good and honest reason for
turning down an opportunity, the potential client walks away feeling that she
was treated in a sincere and helpful way. “We’ve made the choice to focus on
print rather than radio this year, but I know that we’ll revisit that decision
next year. Let’s talk then.”
straight about the future. If you don’t want to leave the door open for
future unwelcome proposals, you will need to be clear about your business’s
policy (even if you develop it just to address this particular situation): “I
appreciate your proposal; however, our business has a policy about not bartering
- Be firm. Sometimes when you say no, your prospective clients will understand and tell you so; other times, they will be confused or angry. Respectfully listen to what they have to say, but don’t change your answer.
- Flattery: “I could have brought this opportunity to any business, but I brought it here because of your outstanding reputation. I know that your team can make this a success.
- Bullying: “You’re making a mistake if you don’t take me up on this offer.”
- Someone else’s problem becoming yours: “I can’t handle this on my own – I need your help.”
Don’t feel pressured to say yes by people who use these tactics. In fact, if someone uses these approaches, be very wary of saying yes.
Regardless of whether you say yes or no to an offer, use consideration, respect, and honesty as your “etiquette filter.” You will be able to build and maintain successful relationships while saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.”