Be Nice To Your Bottom Line: You CAN Say No!

Be Nice To Your Bottom Line: You CAN Say No!

A recent Facebook conversation, with a large and well-meaning group, originating on Brian Fanzo‘s wall, prompted this article.

I’ve often written about the value of this very short and succinct word: No. But it seems there’s a rather misguided notion that in order to be nice you can’t say it. I find that frightening.


Because sometimes saying no is the nicest thing you can do. For a prospect, for your client, for your business, for yourself and for your bottom line.

You should say NO when:

  1. You don’t have the time do a task or job well.
  2. You don’t have the skill set to do a task or job well.
  3. You have to cobble together a solution because you don’t have access to the tools to get it done right.

The preceding examples are pretty cut and dried. But there will be times when it’s harder to suss out that saying no is actually in the best interest of all parties involved.

When did being nice become the end all, be all? When did being nice rise above being smart and professional? You can be both. They’re not mutually exclusive.

You can, and should, be polite and professional when doing business. But that doesn’t always mean you need to be nice. Especially in a time when being nice is so often equated with giving away your smarts, your talents and your business acumen.

At some point you have to stop giving it all away.

When Free Loses Focus

One main premise of social media marketing, of “being” social, is that you share for free up to the point that your prospect trusts you enough to buy. The key phrase we must focus on in this idea is “up to the point.” There must be an end to the freebies, else you never create the invoice that adds dollars to your bank account.

Free creeps into business in many ways that must be combatted.

  • The pick your brain call, coffee, lunch
  • The free 15 minute consult that stretches to an hour
  • The scope creep on projects that involves increasing hours and effort, but not the project price

At this point nice needs to get the nod to leave the room. Because at this point, being nice is negatively impacting your bottom line.

When Nice Is Not-So-Nice

Consider this. Is it nice when you have to forego a planned family outing because you’ve spent hours you should have been dedicating to paying projects on free calls that resulted in no revenue?

Or consider this. Is it nice when you rush a client job, possibly not delivering your best work, because you’ve spent the last several hours having your brain picked by a “friend” who will get you lots of exposure?

Saying No Doesn’t Make You A Jerk!

There’s nothing inherently evil about these two little letters. Problems arise via perception of the delivery. You can say no and maintain a working relationship. You can say no and still be polite and professional. You can say no without hurting feelings.

You absolutely can be a nice person and still be a shrewd and savvy entrepreneur.

Nice guys (and gals) really do finish last if the act of being nice negatively impacts their bottom line. Paying the bills, feeding your family, and investing in the growth of your business must come before being nice simply for the sake of being nice.

What Do You Think?

Can you say no and still remain nice? Remain professional? Remain a smart and savvy entrepreneur?

2 replies
  1. Veronica Athanasiou
    Veronica Athanasiou says:

    It’s better not to be nice and be honest than to pretend and avoid saying ‘no’ and at the end not being able to deliver. In doing so you just delay the NO and it’s worse for all parts. Nice doesn’t pay the bill. Saying No is sometimes the professional thing to do.

    PS: Part of being ‘nice’ is to respect everyone else’s style. Even if we have contrasting styles, we can still cooperate and benefit from each other. That’s professionalism.

    PPS: Good one, Mallie!

    • Mallie Hart
      Mallie Hart says:

      Thanks, Veronica!

      I think you can sometimes nicely say no. But there will come a time when you have to lay it on the line and not allow clients or prospects to talk you into anything that doesn’t best suit your business model and mission.

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