There is nothing quite like being told ‘no’. Even if you expect it and it's part of the negotiation process. ‘No’ has a psychological jarringness to it. These simple two letters can be an abrupt end to a path of conversation or a powerful stand against some villainous regime. 

In our household I have to be careful that I don’t only say ‘no’ too often. Sometimes I catch myself shaking my head and repeating ‘no, no, no’ to the kids before they’ve even finished asking their question. The thought of doing this to an adult is insane. What an obnoxious  jerk you would appear to be. 

I was speaking to someone last week who said that they had trouble saying ‘no’ to their pre-school aged daughter. I certainly don’t have that problem with my kids, in fact I have been working really hard on our family time table and finances so that we can squeeze in a few more 'yeses’ for the upcoming school holidays. 

I suppose the current ‘age of entitlement’ stems from our reluctance to say ‘no’. Especially when raising children, as a parent you want them to feel like they are capable of anything. Not to anchor themselves to society's bull shit limitations and ideals. No wonder a whole generation of young people who are told they can do anything are shocked when they eventually discover they can’t. 

Regular no’s are good for you. 

While it may seem counter, from a professional perspective they help me decide if I’m on track or not and what I want to do about it. This week I got a pretty powerful ‘no’. I sent out a substantial proposal to a potential new client and they just said ‘no’ - well they said heaps of stuff but the summary was - ‘I’m disappointed the price is so high so the answer is no’.

My initial reaction was to meet the client at their budget. As a service provider it can be easy to massage timelines and budgets to make things fit. Back in the day when I didn’t have much appreciation for my value as a designer I would’ve dropped my price to meet the clients expectations and been grateful for the opportunity to do so.

This time is different. This time I know what my value is and am confident that what I bring to the table is worth every cent I charge. This time I got to serve back a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to the client. While it seems odd to be bragging about not getting a job it also made me appreciate that some no’s are good. This ‘no’ in particular made me really look at my offering and clarify in my head what I’m charging and why.

Ironically, the best thing about this ‘no’ was that it confirms I am charging enough. If there is no pushback from the client and they just say - “yes, that's fine, send the invoice on through” you're obviously not charging enough. You want there to be some pushback, not all the time obviously, not for small transitional work but for big meaty creative projects then yes. 

The wild thing about this price pushback is that when you hit the mark having not compromised on price you gain more respect from the client. The main reason being that if you cost that much then surely you must be good, right? I’ve had my most disappointing client engagements in jobs where I have dropped my prices to meet a client's budget. I started the relationship by agreeing to their value of my services - not my own. This is a bad place to start and has NEVER paid off.

My ‘no’ this week was a good one. It was a ‘no’ to all the shity yeses I agreed to earlier in my career. It was a loud ‘no’ to others deciding my worth and a soft and gentle ‘no’ to myself. A reminder that we need the ‘no’s’ to make room for the yeses.

Video of the week
Running a marathon so I don’t get cancelled
Podcast of the week
Stuff you missed in History Class: Rollercoasters
Font of the week
Sliced: Font of the week by Rajesh Rajput

Please sign up for my weekly newsletter. No spam, just a weekly summary about what's been on my mind.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.


Bulletin Board #238
Bulletin Board #237
Bulletin Board #236
Bulletin Board #235

let's connect

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.