Our business culture conditions us to believe that to get ahead we must be agreeable. Take on the projects and assignments offered to you.
This is especially deep conditioning for women. From a young age we are taught to be nice, polite, gracious, lady-like. By the time we get to the workplace we understand that to rise in the ranks and achieve success we must be “team players,” which means taking on the assignments given to us.
When I entered the real estate industry 14 years ago, I was inundated with fear-based messaging that told me I must answer emails within 5 minutes or risk losing a prospective client, and that I must do whatever it takes to hold on to clients at all costs.
Refusing a prospective client is deemed foolish in this like of thinking. This mindset extends to other industries too, especially in service businesses like coaching.
Why would you ever let prospective business get away?
Not all prospective business is good business for you. Not every prospect is the right fit for what you offer. And your offering might not be the right fit for every prospect.
What makes a prospect not the right fit?
The most obvious way is when their needs don’t match your offer. Their problem doesn’t match the problem you solve.
Or, it may be a more subtle mismatch.
Sometimes a prospective client has a problem you can solve but wants a level of service that you don’t offer or don’t want to deliver.
Maybe the prospect doesn’t want to commit the resources that you require — whether financial, time, attention, energy.
Perhaps you simply don’t like the person. Maybe their energy rubs you the wrong way. Maybe they’re too needy or demanding.
Sometimes you can’t articulate a reason. You might just get a feeling in your body, a contraction when you think about working with this person. The body has an innate intelligence that we’ve been conditioned to ignore. Learning how to listen to it can save you a lot of heartache later on.
You Don’t Owe Any Explanations
Whatever the reason is doesn’t even matter. You don’t need to be able to articulate it.
When it comes to your business, you are allowed to say NO — for whatever reason you want.
You don’t owe anyone else an explanation.
To be sure, it can be difficult to say no to people, especially if we think we can help them.
Protect Your Energy
This isn’t just about protecting your time or holding out for more money; the most important asset at stake is your energy.
Saying yes when you really want to say NO is a disservice to you, to the clients you really want to serve, and to that prospect. You won’t bring your best energy to anyone.
My first business coach years ago told me something that sticks with me to this day:
If you fill your plate with clients you kind-of want, you won’t have room for the ones you really want.
When you feel the conditioned pull to say yes, remember that every yes is a no to someone or something else — usually yourself.
If the energy isn’t aligned, for whatever reason, just say NO.