How to Politely Say “No” to a Ridiculous, Unreasonable Request.

When M. wrote to me, she was justifiably annoyed.

“I designed a website for a client. Then she hired a different designer — a cheaper one — to do some site updates. Now the site looks awful, and she wants ME to fix it, for FREE!

Can you write a script to help people like me?

Yes. I do believe I can.

When somebody makes a ridiculous, unreasonable request — in business, at your job, in life, friendship and love — you essentially have three options:

• Don’t even bother responding. (Silence is an answer.)
• Respond, with an irritated, are-you-flipping-nuts?! tone.
• Respond, with a calm, collected, keep-it-classy tone.

Guess which option I prefer?

Here’s a script that you can tweak and test out, the next time you’re facing off with a preposterous request.

Hey {unreasonable person’s name},

Thanks for writing. And yikes — the situation you described sounds deeply frustrating.

I can see why you took the time to reach out, asking for help.

Here’s the thing:

I made a promise to myself on the very first day {I opened my business / took my current position / started my job}.

As a professional {writer / designer / photographer / teacher / coach}, I don’t work “for free,” unless …

1. I’m {doing a project for charity / volunteering for a non-profit / helping someone in my immediate family. Say, my momma.}

Or …

2. I’m correcting a mistake that I made, personally.

Your request doesn’t fall into either of those two categories, so I’ve got to hold firm on my policy and respectfully say “no.”

I’m wishing you all the best. I know you’ll find a way to solve this.

{Your name here}

P.S. If it’s helpful to you, I’ve pasted a great collection of free and low-cost {writing / blogging / training / web design} resources, just down below. Have at ’em.

And that’s it! Short. Simple. No sweat.

Just personalize and blast off, with a deeee-eep breath.

What’s the most RIDICULOUS request that somebody’s ever tossed at YOU?

Alexandra Franzen

When it comes to being a better writer — and a better human being — Alexandra Franzen has a ten-word philosophy: Start with love. Keep it simple. You are not confused. Alexandra’s refreshingly simple communication tips have been featured on Fast Company, Forbes, The Daily Love, The Daily Muse, MediaBistro, MindBodyGreen and The Huffington Post — and on radio programs from coast to coast. Learn more at www.alexandrafranzen.com.

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