How to Say No to a Client

business ethical business mindset productivity Jul 07, 2022
How to Say No to a Client

Many holistic practitioners want to help everyone. The idea of saying no to someone can seem daunting. But there are times in your business when you have to say no to a client who wants your help.

Whilst the temptation is to work with anyone, as you can help all sorts of people, the reality of working with the wrong clients, can cost you dearly.

Times to say no

  • If you feel a client isn’t the best fit for you or your approach, listen to your gut. I know from experience when you over-rule your gut, it’s often not good for you, or your client. It can affect your relationship, and the results they achieve, as well as cause you a huge amount of stress and extra work.
  • When a client has unrealistic expectations about the results they can achieve, or the amount of work they need to put in to achieve them will lead to a mismatch of expectations and disappointment for either or both of you.
  • If a client is challenging and you don’t enjoy working with them or their issues. This is especially important to recognise if you don’t have the necessary experience to help them. You’ll have to do lots of additional work in the process and this will affect your capacity to see more clients.
  • Recognise times when you don’t have the capacity to help them. Putting yourself under pressure because you don’t want to disappoint someone isn’t good for you or your business.

Before you say yes

Just because you’ve been asked for help, it doesn’t mean you have to give an answer straight away. Allow yourself the time to consider your options before jumping in and saying yes, then possibly regretting it later.

A few questions to ask yourself before saying yes are:

  • Is this client right for me?
  • Am I right for this client?
  • Do I have the capacity?
  • Do I want to work with them?

Are there alternatives?

Whilst a client may be asking for a particular service you provide, if in your professional opinion it isn’t right for them, have alternative suggestions for them. This could be through other services or products you offer, different time frames, or it could be pointing them towards other resources, approaches or practitioners you feel are better suited to them at this stage in their journey.

When I worked as a practitioner, I was often approached by clients who weren’t ready to work with me. I would always offer them options that would support them to get ready. This meant it was a no for now, but I was being helpful and when they were ready, they’d come back to me.

Having alternatives can be especially useful if someone doesn’t have the budget to commit to working with you. You can offer them options to help and support them, just in a different format.

Saying no kindly

Whilst this person wants to work with you, it may not be the right time or situation. By saying no in a kind way, you can maintain the relationship until the time is right, or you have an offer that works better for them. Just because you’re saying no now, it doesn’t mean it’s forever.

Make sure you thank them for their interest and use positive language in your response. Ultimately, you’re saying no to their request and not to them as a person.

You do however need to ensure you’re clear about what you’re saying, without leaving any room for misunderstanding. Don’t feel like you must justify your decision as overexplaining can make it appear like you’re not being totally honest with them.


This is your business, and you have the right to say no to anyone who isn’t right. Whilst it may be tempting to work with everyone who shows an interest in your services, you’re respecting yourself and your business, by knowing when to say no. It’s a huge confidence builder, and when you say no to someone, you’re creating space for something or someone else to flow into your business.

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