March 30


A few days or so someone asked the question on LinkedIN: “What’s your favourite way of saying ‘no’”, and then reeled off a list of her favourite feeble euphemisms before asking for others’ in the comments.

Lordy, but there are some strange people out there.

You know my favourite (and only) ways of saying ‘no’?

I have three (the second and third are reserved for requests crossing a certain line):

  1. “No”.
  2. Laugh and shake my head in disbelief.
  3. “Fuck off”.

What I don’t understand and suspect I never will, is why anyone feels the need to prevaricate, dissemble, or equivocate when it comes to shit like this.

I’m told simply saying “no” is somehow rude, but I disagree.

You are never obliged to justify or explain your reasons for saying “no” (the context here was clearly where you’re being asked to consent to something voluntarily rather than as a part of your obligations — in that case it’s reasonable of the other person to expect an explanation).

Moreover, if you immediately offer an explanation beyond “I don’t want to” you’re opening the door to argument. 

So, a woman asked out on a date (say) who then offers excuses like “I’m busy this week”, “I’m doing my hair”, or “I already have a boyfriend” invites “helpful” persistence.

And as often as not it ends up with both being pissed off with each other. Anne Dickson digs into this in some detail in A woman in your own right. Although it’s written for women to help them become more assertive, it’s every bit as relevant to men.

Even worse than making excuses or offering justification and explanation is making shit up and lying about it.

Prospect asks you to meet them to “pick your brain”?

A simple “no” is enough. You don’t need to justify it or, worse, lie and say you’re too busy or whatever (personally, I think that merits a robust “fuck off, you freeloading skidmark”, but I realise not everyone’s like me).

My point?

Speak plainly and assertively.

How can it possibly be rude to decline someone’s request for what’s essentially a favour? 

You might want to soften the blow (“I’m not going to let you pick my brain because I don’t work for free”), but that’s optional.

You know what is rude?

Asking someone for a favour and expecting them to explain why they won’t grant it. That’s just a sugar-coated entitlement attitude.

This is critical when it comes to positioning your business.

When you make rules and expect and insist people stick to them, you will get resistance and people hotly demanding you explain yourself.

And you don’t have to.

Sure, you’ll piss some people off, but that’s on them.

Not only are you not responsible for others’ feelings and emotions, but what they think and feel is none of your business.

They choose their reactions, and you choose yours.

The sooner you grok this, the happier you’ll be.

Wanna learn how to be a complete bastard in your own business and set and enforce the rules you need to set and enforce if you want effective positioning?

Then join us for Ground Zero

Because getting your positioning is the quickest and easiest way I know to increase your profits and ensure you get only the best clients.

Click here for Ground Zero details


P.S. Should you NEVER explain?

Sometimes it can be useful.

Case in point… copywriters and freelancers of all flavours, for example, are frequently asked to join a line of hopefuls with their begging-bowl firmly in hand.

“Send us a portfolio and a proposal with your best price”, the prospect says.

A simple “no” is enough here.

If they then come back and ask why not, that’s when an explanation might be useful.

“Because I don’t work for free and I can’t ‘propose’ anything until I understand exactly what your challenges are and how I can help you. That’s a substantial piece of work and my fee for that is £3,000. If you choose to go ahead then I’ll told it in with the project fee, so you essentially get it for free”.

Ah, positioing.

So simple. So powerful. So damned rare.

Join us for Ground Zero and you’ll be learning from the very best (that’d be ME, Sugarlips).

Click here for Ground Zero details


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