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When you Say “No”

I’m sitting at my desk — a smooth board atop a height-adjustable metal frame, easily convertible from a normal to a standup desk — in a room with about eight other desks, each in various stages of organizational decline. The stimulating drug of most designers is sitting beside me in the form of dark roasted espresso and frothed milk, combined to form an outstanding cappuccino. My inbox is currently overflowing with Dribbble work inquiries, sub-contracting proposals, and similar job offers.

The combination of these components can leave you stunned for a few minutes — probably as a result of the strong espresso — but also because of the pressure that is unconsciously placed on you when you receive such a request, regardless of whether you know you can or cannot accept it. The reason this pressure is, or at least should be placed on you, is because you have a responsibility to exercise a level of respect to those who reached out to you in the first place. This brings me to the point of the discourse; what happens when you say, “No.”

A few days ago, I was standing behind the bar at a local gathering — serving coffee of course — and exchanging pleasantries with the various people who came up for a drink. Most of them I knew, including one of the men who happened to approach, and after the appropriate greetings, proceeded to ask me the simple question, “How is work going?”. Naturally I stuck to the simple answer, “Going well, quite busy lately,” but for some reason I added, “I’ve actually had a lot of inquires for jobs and positions that I’ve had to turn down.”

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