Wowzers. I just googled “how to say yes to your clients when you want to say no” and ALL of the results were about “how to say no to your clients”. Then I tried “how to say yes to your clients” and STILL…results were about saying no and the rest were about how to get the client to say yes.
I believe in positivity. I try to flip every single negative thing on its head. Look…
“Stop running” –> “Please walk”
“Don’t forget” –> “Please remember”
When dealing with clients, there’s really nothing you can’t say yes to. That’s not to say that the ‘yes’ doesn’t come with caveats that may be prohibitive. But still, you can say yes!
Case in point…I was producing a broadcast TV commercial which featured a city landmark. The landmark was about to be repainted but the ad was time sensitive so the client asked “can you use your video photoshop thing to change the color of the tower?” For a project with a restricted budget, my first instinct was “no that doesn’t fit within the budget” but instead, I said “yes we can totally do that. It will cost ____”. The cost of that change would have doubled the entire budget so the client chose not to do it, but not because their agency told them no.
In Tina Fey’s book Bossypants, she talks about the rules of improv comedy. My fave? Never block your partner. Always say “yes, and…” So if they point their fingers at you and say, “I’m holding a gun!” rather than “that’s not a gun” you should go along with it and add to the gag, moving it forward. This is an ethos I always encourage when leading my teams in brainstorming/ideating. We never say an idea is poor, we only add to it with a “yes, and…” attitude. Even if it’s “…yes, and we also think this other idea could work”.
Your clients should feel well supported with your positive can-do attitude. It’s our job to see things differently. ‘No’ is an absolute roadblock to creativity and doesn’t show how capable you are to get around roadblocks and keep their causeÂ moving forward which is precisely the kind of mindset you need to succeed.