No is the new Yes

Effectively managing client-designer relationship has been an ongoing struggle in the creative world. Clients can be tricky to handle, especially when they often get pressured by someone else ‘above’. They expect a lot from your work within a challenging budget. They may ask lame questions that even answering them makes you confused, or even outraged. If you and your designer friends are suffering from this, don’t hesitate to share this article!

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According to Lulo on his piece ‘Funeral for a friend’, an important skill a designer should master is to say goodbye to your favorite all-the-time Yes and learn to say No at the right time. As Josh Billings said, “Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.

Below are 3 reasons why you should practice saying & loving No as a close friend.

1. Saying No saves the world from potential terror

This may sound like a none-of-my-business concern, but actually, designers are greatly responsible for the influence of their work on the audience. Why? Simply because we are living in a digital era, where billions of data as well as personal information are accessible to everyone. Thus, when receiving a job, you should ask yourself: Will the existence of my design be harmful or useful for users? Does this go against my moral values?

A fun example of what kind of project can threaten world’s peace. Adapted from

2. Saying No saves you & your team from dying

No offence, but clients love haggling. They want the best work for the lowest price. If you have encountered a project that has the following terms:

  • Limited budget


  • No down payment


  • Unlimited changes


Be brave enough to turn it down.

3. Saying No saves your project from overloading


Creatives are flooded with a bunch of new ideas everyday. It’s great, but to be honest, one should bear in mind the benefit the projects can bring to the audience. What is the problem that you are trying to solve? Who are you doing this for? Say no to nice-to-haves unless you absolutely have the bandwidth for it.

Having said that, practicing saying No is not an easy task that can be achieved overnight. Lulo outline 3 rules you should remember:

  • There is a thin line between declining politely and acting like an asshole.
  • Communicate clearly to define milestones and deadline, production processes and potential challenges for the project between you and the client. By doing that, not only will you avoid disagreement, trust will be built over time.
  • Save money!!! So that even if you lose a client (or are fired), you won’t have to worry too much.

It is time designers stopped saying Yes to whatever the clients want. The best designs come from the most harmonious client — designer relationships, so reaching an agreement by rejecting at the right time should not be underestimated. Do you agree with us on this, or do you have any other tips for designers to make peace with clients? Tell us in your comments below!

Edited by Keith Teo