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If The Answer Is No, Just Say So!

Janet Christy -- It's not all about you. Here's why it's professional to give a response, even if it's a negative one.

If someone asked me for a quote or proposal and then decided not to use my services, why don't they tell me?

If someone is considering offering one of my workshops, but decide they don't have time to organize it, why can't they tell me so?

If someone talked with me about buying some of my books to give to their clients or members, but decide the investment is not worth it, why won't they let me know?

If the answer to my question is no, why can't people say so?

It is amazing to me that people feel it is better or at least acceptable to leave someone hanging if the answer is a negative. I, personally, would much rather find out that the sale is dead or the project is a no go, than wonder or hope. Sometimes the should-be-responder may be waiting on an answer themselves or they may be too busy to handle the details so they can get to the answer. If that's the case then I would appreciate a quick note to that effect.

From my experience there are several reasons people will not respond if the response is negative. Here are my thoughts on those reasons:

-- If you hate to say no, remember that someone is waiting. Put their anxiety ahead of your discomfort and give them the answer.

-- If you feel it is not politically correct to say no, ask yourself if it is politically correct to ignore someone you have given hope to.

-- If you haven't gotten around to making a decision, then make one or tell the person who is waiting that you will decide by a specific date. Then, for goodness sake, meet that deadline.

-- If you are waiting for other people, at least explain the situation to the person looking to you for an answer. But don't use this reason if it's just an excuse to hide another less palatable reason.

Those of us waiting for an answer are not sure whether we should "remind" you that you owe us an answer or just assume the answer is negative. Either way you may be hurting yourself because if we assume the answer is negative, but you just need a reminder, we won't be reminding you. Or, if we think you need a reminder, we may nag you.

As a business owner, I have to be mature and tough enough to hear no. If the answer is negative, then tell me because I would rather be free to move on to other opportunities.

If the answer is no, it's okay to say so!


Janet W. Christy is the founder and President of Leverage & Development, LLC, a consulting firm that helps Small, and Woman/Minority-Owned businesses use their status to their advantage. Her services include marketing research and planning, certification assistance, sales guidance, and assistance in government bidding. Janet is the author of Capitalizing On Being Woman Own and 101 Winning Marketing Actions for Small Businesses. She is based in Greer, SC and does offer phone consultations. For more, visit:

© 2018 Janet Christy

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