Good can come from saying no

By Kim Browne


Having spent my formative years in advertising sales, some habits are hard to break. I’ve always tried to say “yes” to as many things as possible when it comes to clients.

And another lesson well learnt is when you really can’t say yes, try to find an alternative solution to saying no when at all possible. So, it probably comes as no surprise that when we launched Twisted Toast Digital three years ago, we made it our mission to always find a way to say yes to clients.

I’m not complaining and must admit this strategy has worked for us  big time. Many times over our clients have said they appreciate our energy, passion and willingness to take on the seemingly impossible, often involving crazy deadlines.

But recently, I’ve started thinking that sometimes it may be better to say no. We tried it on a client recently who went away, only to come back a few months later with a better understanding of what we can offer. The relationship has never been better.

I also think clients too need to sometimes say no. We much prefer a client who tells us they don’t want to progress a job than the client who never gives us closure. Just say no  and we can all move forward. We won’t be offended, honest!

I’m not suggesting we should say no lightly. We continue to try say “yes” or find an alternative solution before using the two letter word. But, I’ve come to realise there is space for the odd “no” in our business vocabulary.

I see this revelation as a coming of age really. Bringing a little more balance into our business.

Some things really just aren’t worth getting out of bed for on our side (the effort we put in is simply not appreciated by clients who have no idea how much work can go into a seemingly little thing).

Clients who say yes when perhaps they should say no can also easily become passive aggressive, which is painful for everyone concerned. Projects lag, deadlines get missed, phone calls are avoided and meetings get put off, all leading to frustration and ultimately failure of a project. Awkward!

Just this week we had a “no” from a client and  the very next day we signed a new client who said “yes”. Even though it can sometimes feel personal it’s not – it’s just business.

At the end of it all, my rant can be summed up with a “ja-nee”. As an English-speaking Safrican with a limited Afrikaans vocabulary, I believe I have always misunderstood the meaning of this fabulous idiom. I don’t think my literal translation of “yes-no” is entirely accurate. It’s probably more correct to say it represents the “grey” in black and white.

Grey is the new black, for June anyway! Proposing a toast to this month’s Friday the 13th. It’s always a great one for us.

Stay toastie :)