Post by Jane K. Stimmler, contributing Women on Business writer
For those of us out here in the business world, the name of the game is seeking opportunities to get new clients and new assignments. We give and receive tips on how to build relationships, promote our accomplishments and communicate effectively – all with the end game of getting more and better work. For entrepreneurs, this translates into customers with new business. For corporate folks, it can mean broadening the scope of responsibility through a promotion or a new job.
But what if the prospective new client or assignment doesn’t feel right? Maybe you’re uncomfortable about it, but aren’t sure why. Is it ever appropriate to turn down work or a promotion? I believe, in the right circumstances, the answer is an emphatic “yes.” Don’t get me wrong – if you’re feeling a bit uneasy because you’re presented with a “stretch” assignment and your confidence is lacking, it is likely you’ll want to buck up and go for it. But there are times when saying “no” is not only the right thing to do, but also is positively empowering! In fact, as an entrepreneur, I’ve come to the view that while it’s flattering (not to mention potentially lucrative) when people want to do business with my firm – if it isn’t right for us – it’s usually a mistake to take it on.
There are a number of red flags which should put you on alert that the new client/assignment may not be a match. Here are some questions to think about:
Values: Is the mission of company or the individual incompatible with your goals? Does their product or service, or their way of conducting business make you uncomfortable? Is it inconsistent with your beliefs?
Expectations: Is it clear to you that unrealistic expectations have been set for the project or position? Do you feel that the budget or staffing is way off from where it should be – and is not subject to discussion?
Chemistry: Do you get a bad vibe from the person in charge or the environment – and cannot see yourself “fitting in” to the project or team? Do you feel a lack of respect for you or the work you do? Do you sense the prospective client or employer is being less than honest with you?
If you answer “yes” to these questions, it’s probably time to say “no” to the opportunity. Though it may be difficult to turn down a prospect – especially in this tough economy – by knowing yourself and making a sound and reasoned business decision, you are giving yourself the best chance of success.
Have you ever turned down an opportunity? Please share!