When Is It Okay to Say No?

As event professionals, we recognize the importance of service. About 99% of the time, we strongly believe in the service industry’s mantra of “The customer is always right.” However, sometimes we have to say no to a client – though the decision is always a difficult one.

Of course, saying no is a no-brainer if a client wants to do something that is illegal, unethical or unsafe for the event guests. But there are some situations that become difficult – if not impossible – for us to succeed in. One such example involves working with a client undergoing internal conflicts. If, for example, two internal departments are trying to make a joint decision but are miscommunicating, we as the event professionals are still expected to step back and present the pros and cons of the various decisions and help guide the decision makers to the best path for the program’s success – which can be very challenging if the parties involved are not working well together.

We love and value all of our clients, but some kinds of situations – like the one mentioned above – are very difficult to succeed in. If there is not a good match with our work/management style and our clients’ expectations, or if we feel the organization will have conflicting expectations, then we will probably turn down the project.

In addition, we may have to step back and turn down a job if it’s not the best use of our team’s talent and skills. We have a limited set of resources from the standpoint of time, and it’s crucial that we balance all of our team members’ workloads fairly and effectively.

Again, saying no to business is something we take very seriously. We strive to exceed expectations for all of our clients and partners, and if we feel we cannot be successful in a situation, we don’t want to tie up that client’s time and money.