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The Option of Saying “NO”
Several months ago I wrote about the tendency of big-hearted advocates to over-extend themselves with volunteer work; that when someone needs their help, but doesn’t have the means to pay them, they don’t know how to say “no.” We looked at some of the ways to get past that inability in order to keep our businesses moving forward. Truth is, that is only one of the circumstances where “no” is the right answer. That’s true whether it is us, as professional advocacy business owners who must choose to say no, or whether we must help our clients choose “no” if it is possibly the right answer for them. The business “no” is not unusual and will seem very simple once you understand it. But the client “no” is often overlooked – and you truly owe it to your clients to not only understand it, but to help them understand, and sometimes embrace it, too. Here’s a business “no” example: A potential client calls you and asks for your help. After some screening, you determine that yes, he can afford to pay you, but you realize that what he is asking you to do is outside your current capabilities – you are a hospital bedside advocate and he’s asking you to review his medical bills. For the first time since you started your advocacy business, you have a full roster of clients, so it’s not like you have time to learn the skills needed to help him. Further, you have little interest in moving into the medical bill reviewing area of advocacy. You have three choices: you can say “yes” – and try to learn the medical billing skills you’ll need (not a good choice!) OR – you can tell him you don’t handle medical billing, but you’ll refer him to someone who can help him. OR – you can tell him NO. You’re sorry, but that is not a service you provide. Choice #2 or #3 are both your best answers. They are both ways of saying NO. Choice #2 is actually the best, because referrals among advocacy colleagues (even…