As a designer, there are different situations that you are involved in. Some may be easy to go through but some are really hard. You do not want to get stuck in any situation wherein you have to sacrifice something in order to satisfy your clients. Also, you will not like to be stressed out due to some situations in dealing with a client and a project. You would not risk your reputation as a designer, too. Hence, there are really some instances that you have to say no.

Designers should learn to say no to their clients in a respectful manner. Be sure also that even if you say no, you still sound nice and willing to work. This way, you will retain a good reputation. You should know when is the time to say no in order for you to do away with situations that you do not like. Read below ten situations when you are supposed to say no to a client.

1. When you feel forced to complete the project.

When you feel forced to complete the project.
Image: shutterstock

It would not be good if you are working on something which you will not love and enjoy. You might be encouraged to get the project because of a good pay but if it will only force you to work on something which you are not really good at or you don’t have enough time to finish it on the due date, then it is useless. You will only create a bad image for you will not come up with a good quality.

2. When you think you are not capable to do the project.

When you think you are not capable to do the project
Image: shutterstock

Admit it. You are not Mister Perfect and you would not be able to do everything. So, say no to a project when you think you are not really capable of doing it. Yes, you could learn new things while working on it but the quality might be sacrificed. You wouldn’t want your clients to see a not so good output. Instead of accepting it, you can refer the client to someone you know who could do it.

3. When you are not comfortable working with the client.

When you are not comfortable working with the client
Image: shutterstock

There are instances when you dislike a client. We really cannot do away with that. There are certain differences for each of us and this is one of them. There are really clients who are difficult to deal with. They would be so demanding and hard to please. Some would act as if they know everything. To avoid getting into trouble, look for a way to say no to them. Aside from freeing yourself from stress and hassle, you will also be able to protect your name as a designer.

4. When time is more important than quality.

When time is more important than quality
Image: shutterstock

Some clients want you to finish a project at once even if quality is sacrificed. Well, you would not agree to this because as a designer, you would not want to sacrifice the quality of your work because it will boomerang to you. If a client wants you to do some magic in order to finish things at once, then you’d better say no.

5. When the client does not show interest in communicating with you.

When the client does not show interest in communicating with you
Image: shutterstock

Of course, it is very important to communicate with your client especially if there are things that you need to ask. This might result into so many corrections and revisions which can eat up your time. Also, you could have trouble with the billing because he can just disappear without paying you and you have already spent a lot of time working on it.

6. When a client has unrealistic demands and expectations.

When a client has unrealistic demands and expectations
Image: shutterstock

Avoid working with a client with this attitude. He might want you to work on a project with little budget but an output that is expensive or he might want you to finish a project in a rush with so many requirements and details. Say no at once because if you won’t, you will be faced with a client who wouldn’t be happy and contented with your work. You will know this even during the first meeting. Just say no and tell the client that what he wants is impossible.

7. When it doesn’t match your skills.

When it doesn’t match your skills

Sometimes, there are clients who bark on the wrong tree. Well, do not just accept a project when you do not know what that is. You will just waste time looking for mentors and tutors to teach you how to do it. Also, the result could be not as good as the client wants it to be.

8. When it is against your working ethics.

When it is against your working ethicsn

There are always things that you consider ethical and you would have some best practices while working. If a project doesn’t meet that, then, do not accept it. You do not want to spend time worrying and berating yourself if you could sacrifice your principles just for a project. So, just say no.

9. When you are underpaid for a job.

When you are underpaid for a job
Image: shutterstock

All clients want to have a great output for a project. Yes, that is very true, even for those who have little budget. If your client cannot accept the fact that all you can do for the project is a particular thing but he still keeps on insisting that you do something big for it, then say no. No one wants to work hard and be paid less.

10. When you have limited time to work.

When you have limited time to work
Image: shutterstock

There are times when you really have so many projects to finish. So, instead of accepting another project, say no to it. Doing this can help you to avoid any problems with work. You will be in trouble if you fail to reach the deadline. Or, you might make the project hurriedly and end up with an undesirable result. If you do not have enough time, say no.

It’s Your Turn Now

Maybe, you would agree with those stated above. When it comes to work, there are different things that really need to be considered. Have you experienced any of these situations? How did you handle it? Were you able to say no at once? Or are there other situations where a designer needs to say no to a client? Share your ideas to us. We would be glad to hear from you.

Kareen Liez

About the author: A Civil Engineer who has a construction business and a youth volunteer for a civic organization. She also contributes for a local newspaper due to her unwavering passion to write.


  1. I love the number 9 part. Very true. I been experiencing client that are demanding and in times of paying He didn’t pay me. : (

  2. Thanks for dropping by! We will be posting more helpful tips like this. 🙂

  3. Clients want the world and to be fair, if they’re paying they have the right to ask for everything.

    It’s our job to get a spec/brief in place, with time lines that work to our advantage. I know it’s difficult but as this article states, sometimes your better off not taking the project on. Over time you learn to spot the signals of difficult clients, you have to evaluate the time, hassle and profit of any project and find your own level.

    You might not end up rich, but you will live without the stress.

  4. Web Design Lancaster. “You might not end up rich, but you will live without the stress.” very true. lol

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