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Just Say NO

Especially in the early days of building a new advocacy or care management practice, you might be very tempted to attempt to fulfill any request that comes your way.

But smart business owners know when to say NO.

Sometimes it seems almost impossible to eek that small word out of our mouths!  But there will be as many times it’s important for NO to be your answer as they will be times you can agree. Maybe more.

So many advocates, because they have such HUGE hearts, want to please the person they respond to. But being a people pleaser at the wrong time won’t help you build a strong business.

When might NO be the right answer? 

  • Maybe someone asks you to perform your services for free. Just say NO. There are so many reasons to say no!
  • You may be asked to help a client do something that you don’t possess the skills to do. Say NO – you can’t do it (although you can help to find someone else who does have those skills.)
  • Someone might ask you to do something unethical, or even illegal – another more obvious time to say NO. 
  • Your client might ask you to recommend what decision you would make, what treatment path you would choose if you were him. Remind him that you never make decisions for a client. (Just say NO!)
  • You may be asked to speak to a group that will make money from your presence and expertise. Say NO, but tell them you’ll be happy to help out if they are willing to pay you. (If they aren’t making money from the fact that you are the speaker, then go ahead and say YES.)
  • A client might ask you to drive her to a doctor appointment. Unless you have the right driver license and auto insurance, you’ll have to tell her NO.
  • A potential client may call you from outside your geography, and because you aren’t sure you can serve them well, you’ll have to say NO.
  • How many other scenarios can you think of?

Hand in hand with a “no” is “I don’t know.”  Never pretend you know something you don’t, because that can cause bigger problems for your client and for you. Go ahead and tell them you don’t know, then follow it with, “But I’ll find out for you.”  That’s the best of client service, meeting the letter of the Advocacy Code of Ethics, and the needs of a client, too.

How will you know it’s time to say NO?  Sometimes it’s obvious. When it’s not, then your gut will tell you. You’ll know it’s time to refuse to move forward at the time your gut says “maybe I want to do this, maybe I think it would be helpful to this other person even though it’s detrimental to me, maybe I want them to like me, but I know it’s probably not a good idea.”

Most new business-builders are surprised to realize the great respect that can come from knowing when to say NO. Better than being a people-pleaser, being a respected professional is what will help you grow your healthy practice.

It takes confidence to say “no” and “I don’t know!” but both are crucial responses for true professionals to keep in their bag of responses.


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