≡ Menu

“No!” Is A Complete Sentence

Freelance writingI was reminded recently that “No!” is a complete sentence, and probably should be used that way more often than it is.

I was talking with a potential writing client. We had agreed on the general outlines of the piece of writing he wanted, or at least I thought we had. Then he asked “Would you be willing to create a flier for no additional cost?”

“No,” I said and as tempted as I was to offer an explanation I didn’t. I knew I had uttered the negative in a pleasant tone of voice and had thoroughly answered his question. I figured if he wanted more information he’d ask for it, meanwhile, without more information or more questions anything I’d add would sound apologetic and as if I weren’t sure of my ground.

“Okay,” the client said, “I’ve got a graphics guy who can do it.”

I was relieved and the truth is I don’t like doing flyers much even though I know how to do it. The longer piece of writing is what I wanted to do for the client without the distraction of graphics.

Really, “No!” is a complete sentence

Notice too that in this example my “no” was a non-issue. He already had a solution and was trying to get a bit more for his money.


I tend to use “no” as a complete sentence in other situations too, including:

  • “Will you write a 500 word article for $5?”
  • “Can you finish this by tomorrow?”
  • “I’m broke; will you reduce your rate?”
  • “Will you take a percentage lieu of pay?”

Sure, sometimes I’ll say more than just “no.” Explanations can be helpful. Often clients and potential clients don’t understand exactly what they are asking for and a little bit of education gently given never hurts.

Those explanations can, however, sound like excuses – or a willingness to consider the offer in some fashion.

A firm, respectful “no” as a complete sentence can work wonders.

If they want more information let them ask for it. Be willing to explain, but don’t insist on it. It’s surprising how often a simple ‘no” is the end of it.

Of course, “yes” is also a complete sentence.

How do you use “no” as a complete sentence?

annesig.

Subscribe to Abundant Writing News at no cost to you, and get a free ebook.
Like this post? Share it with your network and thanks!




{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Dang it, there was a moment today when I should have used this. Ah well . . . I’m sure I’ll get plenty more opportunities . . .
    David McWilliams recently posted..A One Minute Story: The Things We Don’t Want To LoseMy Profile

  • I’m getting better about saying no, but I tend to say it with a lot of explanation and rationalization. So this is a great reminder that I don’t have to do that!

    • The first time I said a simple no, with no explanations I don’t know who was more surprised… me or the person I said it to 😉

  • Fantastic post, Anne! I love that you went the extra mile to not only encourage us to say, “No,” but not to follow that with any explanation. Definitely one for the Friday links. Thank you!
    Meryl K Evans recently posted..When No One-8217s CallingMy Profile

    • Anne

      Thank you Meryl… and thanks for Friday.

  • Anne, I linked to you today. 🙂
    Lori recently posted..Life Goes OnMy Profile

    • Anne

      Thanks Lori, as always.

  • Lori:

    Although some hate it, I don’t mind being called a “pushy broad.” To me, it means you know your own mind & it’s only derogatory if you let it be. 🙂
    Cathy Miller recently posted..Do You Think Texting Shortcuts Cause Spelling ErrorsMy Profile

    • Anne

      Yes, pushy broad or worse is okay with me too.

  • Every one of those questions deserves a one-word answer. I’ve said no, which seemed to shock someone I was talking with recently. The question: “Can you manage an article for us for next week?” (This was asked Thursday night and I was heading out on vacation on Saturday morning) I said no. Life goes on.

    The person I mentioned this to was surprised, but then said, “Wow, I’m glad you can push back like that.” It’s not pushing back. It’s stating fact. I can’t do it. I won’t kill myself trying. As I said, life goes on.
    Lori recently posted..Pricing and the New FreelancerMy Profile

    • Anne

      lol, maybe it is pushing back… if someone says it is it’s probably because they are used to ‘winning’ by pushing. Anyway, good for you.

  • Unfortunately, they are sentences (“yes” and “no”) that many of us have found hard to cultivate. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Ha ha, sometimes at work when people say “Liz–” I say “No.” Unfortunately, after the chuckle, I have to do it anyway. But it’s good practice, I guess!
    Elizabeth West recently posted..How to Buy a Present for a WriterMy Profile

  • jorgekafkazar

    I’ll stick with “that does not compute.”

  • I often feel guilty saying no, as if I need to offer an explanation of why I’m giving a negative response. It’s as if my “no” isn’t good enough, that there has to be some qualifier. You’re right – sometimes the explanation does make me look less confident. I’ll remember that next time the answer is really “no.” Thanks for this great post!

  • I confess I have a hard time saying, “No.” I don’t have a problem saying, “No,” i just have to tack on something else – some qualifier. And you know what? It usually isn’t a true statement.

    Can you get this to me today? No, I’m sorry, my current workload won’t allow that. The workload part is probably true (hopefully!), but not the “I’m sorry” part.

    Can you look this over for me (some other person’s marketing piece) and let me know your opinion? It should only take a few minutes. I don’t say “No.” I usually tell them a consulting fee and then they say, “no.” 🙂

    Guess I need to stop qualifying, huh, Anne? Just say no! 🙂
    Cathy Miller recently posted..Should Typos Cost You a JobMy Profile

  • Simple post, but one that is *so* important. This is exactly the reminder I needed today. Thanks, Anne!
    Allison recently posted..18 Resources for Publishing your BookMy Profile

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Translate »