Why saying YES to your clients is a big NO

January 6, 2015
Why saying YES to your clients is a big NO

Have you ever found yourself saying ‘yes’ to a request that you would rather not have agreed to? If so, then you’re not alone! Vanessa Bohns -- a social psychologist at the University of Waterloo -- suggests that well over 50% of people naturally say ‘yes’ to requests due to our human need for social connection (if you’re interested in the psychology behind this, you can listen to a recent interview with Vanessa on the Here and Now podcast).

As a freelance translator, saying ‘yes’ to client requests without thinking about the consequences can be detrimental. This post will highlight a few reasons why this is.

You set restricted expectations on yourself

When a client asks if you can complete a certain amount of work by a specific deadline, it’s not a good idea to immediately say ‘yes’ to this request. Instead, try to negotiate a little more time to complete the work; you’ll have to judge for yourself whether you think this is appropriate on a case-by-case basis.

However, doing this will leave you with a few advantages: if you’re able to complete the all work by the client’s initially suggested deadline anyway, then you’ll be able to get the work back early and make your client happy. And if you find that some unexpected problems arise whilst working on the translation, then you’ll have a little bit of extra time (and a little less pressure too!) to address them.

You fail to establish boundaries

It’s easy to say ‘yes’ to a client’s requests, especially when you’re short of work. However, by un-reflectively agreeing to every task a client asks you to perform, you might find yourself backed into a corner!

What if a client wants you to perform a task that doesn’t sit right with you or just seems incredibly boring? If you agree to take on this work then there will be an expectation for you to take on similar work in the future too. Once you’ve said ‘yes’, it’s harder to have a change of mind in the future! Let your clients know where you stand from the get-go.

You fail to show clients your full potential

To secure ongoing clients you should aim to make yourself an invaluable resource to your current, short-term clients. Saying ‘yes’ to your clients’ requests certainly proves your dependability, but it fails to alleviate some of your clients’ frustrations and make their lives easier. 

When your client gives you a new request, suggesting how to enhance the project or to change the brief to make the completed work better proves that you’re a valuable specialist who makes your clients’ lives easier.

Of course, you need to be tactful when suggesting improvements, and a pre-existing relationship with a client will certainly give them more inclination to listen to your opinion. But by employing some discernment, you’ll find that clients will greatly appreciate your hesitancy to say ‘yes’ immediately, valuing your input and suggested improvements.

You are unable to control your work-life balance

By saying ‘yes’ to each request for more work, you run the risk of taking on more work than you’re capable of handling. You’ll then have to work overtime to get things done, or even worse, not return your work on time! 

Obviously, neither of these two alternatives are good, and so by taking time to check your calendar, and making sure that you have enough time to rest before agreeing to take on more work, then you should be able to stay on top of things.

Final thoughts

Do you think that there are other instances when saying ‘yes’ could be problematic? Perhaps you have some stories that you’d like to share about saying ‘yes’ too much!? If so, please reply in the comments below!

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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