How to Turn Down a Client Politely? | KS Web Services

How to Turn Down a Client Politely?

How to Turn Down a Client Politely

It can be very difficult to turn down a client who is willing and ready to pay for your work. In most cases, freelancers will fidget in their chairs just trying to think of the best way to tell a client 'NO'. This might be due to previous experiences, more than enough workload, or simply you just don’t feel you can work with the client.

If you feel like you will spend too much time with the client, or rather you don’t have resources to meet client’s demands, a simple 'No' can solve a myriad of issues. The following are some of the things you should consider saying in order to turn down a client politely. As a matter of fact, not all will be relevant to your situation, but having an idea on what to say is something that will save you time.

The reasons you will turn down work will dictate specifics on how you will tell the client 'No'. For instance, the time might just be too short for you to handle any projects at that particular point, or the morality behind the project might not necessarily be good and so you must stand up and say no. Furthermore, you can turn down work based on the fact that the rate is too low, or you have had previous bad experiences with the same client. In this case, you need to be brutally honest about your reason of declining the offer, but at the same time always try to be objective and strategic. Or maybe you're just too busy with your existing clients and you can no longer handle additional workload.

How to Turn Down a Client Politely?

The art of hearing

This is one vital element that will make your client even want to work with you after declining the offer. In this case, you should be able to listen and hear their concern about the project at hand. And when responding to their requests, always use words such as “I understand, but this is difficult on my end…” then give reason. Nevertheless, in the same breathe, try to tell the client that you are focused on what you can do at that particular point in time.

Time is of essence

It can sometimes take way too long for freelancers to decline some projects that come their way. If you buy time, the client might assume that you are on it only to find out later that you never did the work or are not willing to do it. This is something that will always lead to burning bridges of which is not good for the freelancer, either. The best way is to tell the client that you will not be able to deal with project and try to be helpful, too.

Have a strategy

Strategy involves explicitly explaining yourself as to why you will not be able to handle the project. To begin with, try to apologize as this brings down the clients' emotions or defense mechanism. Thereafter, go ahead and give an elaborated explanation as to the reasons you think you will not be able to handle the project.

At the end of it all, always ensure that you end the conversation with a friendly reconciliatory tone that can help you get nothing but the best. Generally, the 'no' will not come as a surprise to the client and he/she can consider you for future projects. Of course, this is one thing that will help you have a steady stream of work irrespective of the field you work. It’s all about showing that you care and are also concerned about the client’s projects.​

Offer alternatives

Customer-worker relationship is something that offers you the best foundation for success, and saying 'no' rudely will definitely jeopardized any chances of future work from client. As such, there is always the need to be kind, concerned, and of course, try to offer alternatives that you think can help the client. It’s much better to tell the client that your hands are tied and have no time, rather than accept a project and under deliver. You can as well try to give alternatives, referrals, or just anything in this line.


It is important that you offer valid reasons as you try to explore alternatives. If the rates are low, then try to say so. If you have no time this week, you might have plenty of it the coming weeks. In a nut shell, let your reasons be the backbone of you declining the task. At the end of the day, it is all about business etiquette and not all clients will be the best fit for you.

Be the expert they will always want

If you position yourself as an expert, clients will always want to work with you even after you decline their projects. To begin with, this increases the chances of charging higher rates, and it opens doors in regard to referrals. Always remember, turning down a client will not necessarily hurt your business. In fact, it might be a blessing in disguise.

About the Author Kaila Sharlene

I am a freelance web designer, web developer and SEO specialist - one of the “Top Rated” web designers on Upwork. Living a digital nomad lifestyle, I love to explore the outdoors while doing some freelance jobs in between.

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