“No” makes it easier to build trust. Let me explain:

I have a photography friend who just cannot say no. She says “yes” to just about everything. One thing I have noticed about her is when she says “oh ya for sure” that means no, but to most people, that sounds like “yes”. Her problem is, for whatever reason, she thinks its mean to say “No” and leave a person feeling rejected, so she reluctantly accepts, and then leaves the person hanging. I believe leaving someone hanging is much worse than saying no in the first place. “No” eliminates expectations. In fact, if you are saying no to a friend or client, they will also respect you more for having the courage to straight up tell them and communicate openly with them, even if it is something they didnt want to hear.

As a photographer, spouse, friend, business owner, etc- it is incredibly important that those with whom you associate respect your “word”. Some countries dont even sign contracts, they believe a man’s word and maybe a handshake are all you need to make and keep an agreement. Your “word” should be your “bond”- if you tell someone you are going to do something or be at a certain place at a certain time, it should be paramount that you keep your word. “Why?” some of you may ask- one of the main reasons is because when you keep you word, it becomes more powerful and increases trust, which is HUGE. Trust is not an easy thing to build with someone. Trust is efficient- it makes all of our social and economic transactions happen faster. If your customers trust you completely, it will be easier for you to get repeat business

Another thing is, if they are unable to keep their word in little, simple things, how in the world can they keep their word for the large, difficult ones? I take little notes on who keeps their word and who doesn’t, if someone lets me down time and again, I naturally think “ok…this person cannot be trusted” and my relationship with them fizzles and disappears, simply because I am not interested in a “one-way” street of trust. (This is where I keep my end of the bargain and they do not).

For example: If you play games with your customers, and they have the impression services or products will be provided when they in fact wont be, they will be upset with you when you try to “upsell” those same products and services and you wont have repeat business. Once you have landed a customer, it is of paramount importance that you keep that customer happy. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to find and land customers, and it is much more profitable to work with repeat business than to spend your time constantly hunting for them.

Sometimes customers will ask for products or services you cannot or do not want to provide, this is where “no” comes in. I would also like to point out, that you do not have to say the word “no”, but there must absolutely be a clear understanding that “no” is what is meant, phrases such as “Im sorry, I wont be able to do that” or “We can add that for an additional fee” or “Im so sorry my schedule is already booked”.

Sometimes customers will show enough red flags that you shouldn’t do business with them in the first place, micro-managers (they determine every shot) or hagglers (they want negotiate every cost of the package) are two that come to mind.

This is one of the hardest things for beginning business photographers to do, is turning away “bad” business, because all they see are $$ signs and not the trouble it will take to keep this particular customer happy. Every photographer has different red flag customers, but not every photographer will politely turn their business away. I would also say that you do not have to give them a specific reason, which if you do, can open another can of worms. Always be polite with customers and potential customers, but you do not have to say yes to everything they request.

If you aren’t already doing this, I would definitely suggest at least trying it.