Saying No in Development to Clients is Hard

adriantwarog profile image Adrian Twarog ・1 min read

Is one of the hardest things to say, especially in development or design. To a client's expectations, or to lower prices, or even just to the scale or practicality of ideas.

I was scared to say "no" in the past.

Now I can say it, I say "No" to bad ideas, prices, and more...

  • No to working for less money
  • No to extra discounts
  • No to urgent timelines
  • No to unrealistic requests
  • No to bad design choices

Saying "no" gives you the ability to do better work for others in the long run. Here is my take on why and how I was able to say "no" more often over my career.

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Adrian Twarog


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"No" is the most powerful word there is.

It's the same whether you're a freelancer, work in outsourcing, deal with external partners, or even within the same company. Both inside and outside of development. If you're not ready to say "no" you're not prepared to say "yes".

I've never regretted saying "no", only "yes".


so much this.

I realized that for myself personally, but also for my team. time is finite, and attention is a precious commodity. something will got to give.

if you care about the quality of your work, it’s paramount to give things the importance and care they deserve.

this doesn’t mean to never change your mind, but to be careful because changing priorities, context, and adding work are all things that have a cost.


True words here! I know those feelings honestly!


Wow. I want to be your friend but am afraid to ask πŸ˜‚


Hahhaa, saying yes can be just as hard as saying no, saying yes to friends, support, help. That's a good topic for another day!

Yep. To be a little less facetious about my reply, this is genuinely good advice about saying No. I used to keep a spreadsheet which tracked my commitments, so that I would slow down on making them. I was able to keep up with my work, but without gaining more control over the time and expectations, I experienced too much stress.

For the most part, Mr. Cortisol isn't my buddy πŸ˜‰

Thanks for kicking off the discussion


This is some qoute-level material right here. Well said.


I preferer to paraphrase client (or my team lead) requirements to make sure we both are talking about the same problem. Then I can easily say "No", because I understand the topic of conversation. Anyway, great post :)


Nice, will check the video out later though.

I can say that this has been and still is sometimes the most difficult thing for me... But when you find yourself working on 8 projects at one time you realize you should start saying "no" sometimes...

If you say yes to everything, you won't do anything right.


Yeah, its time and experience that help in this!


One of the most difficult things to do. Great article AND video Adrian! It's nice having the info in two different forms πŸ˜„


I used to travel a lot, and having an audio version and text version of topics used to be the best. Trying to do more things like that with better writeups hopefully.


Yes! That's awesome and really helpful πŸ‘


Something I learned through my journey as a software engineer is different from saying no. When your customer is not tech, you do not want to be the guy that always says no. Instead, I tend to say "it is possible, but it will take a lot of time. I recommend not to do it yet, it is up to you to choose".
This way the responsability is given to customer, and most of the time he will join your opinion.
This approach is very relevant in an Agile environment where customer prioritizes features.