There’s an old term about being a pushover, one who lets people do as they please, no matter the request or effort to make it happen. Known as a “yes man,” these agreeable folk come in all genders, ages, and sizes. They go to too many present-buying functions, they often have their items borrowed indefinitely, and they put themselves in questionable situations just to make others happy. They are regularly taken advantage of.
Yes men, it’s time to say no.
It’s important to be helpful or agreeable, but when it’s constant and self-sacrificing, the “yes” answering has to stop. Especially when you own a business.
Finding a Solution
As writers, editors, or whatever other type of freelancer, clients will try to take advantage of your services on a regular basis. When you approve an inch, they take a mile. Not everyone is a cheap, email-avoiding scoundrel, but they are out there. Being aware from the start is the best way to keep yourself protected.
Sign an agreement, ask for a deposit, or even check for references when working with a new client. There are also warning signs to look out for, such as those who think they know more about your job than you do, or who require more in correspondence time than actual work hours.
While we’d like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, that’s also a great way to not get paid.
Though to be fair, I’ve also heard horror claims by clients of writers who took off with a deposit, never to be heard from again. (A truly awful way to gain clientele, BTW.) For these instances, agree to a half payment or signed agreement so all parties feel safe.
Learning to Hold Your Ground
One of the most helpful ways to confront deadbeat clients, however, is learning to say no. When they ask for something outrageous, shut them down before they have time to get their hopes up.
Of course, some questions are easy to say no to:
- Will you accept half payment?
- Can I request unlimited changes for no additional charge?
- If I don’t use this, I won’t pay you.
As for the other, more difficult questions, don’t be afraid to say no. Responses should always be polite, accommodating, and searching for a new, usable solution. But that doesn’t mean you have to jump through hoops for others. After all, you’re running a business, not a political campaign.
The next time a client asks for something outrageous, don’t be afraid to say no. You might just earn yourself a little customer respect.