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Virtual Assistant Tips: How To Graciously Say “No”

Business Woman Looking On Option And Select No Decision IsolatedAs a Virtual Assistant, it is normal to encounter days when it feels as if the universe conspires to test whether you are a super human. These are days when you have a lot of things in your plate with “urgent” labels or “complete as soon as possible” notes.

This is quite difficult if you are handling several clients. You know that you can’t complete all the deliverables in a single shift. The dilemma grows when one of your clients asks for an extra time to have his tasks completed on that day.

You understand where your client is coming from, but your head is swirling with all the other things you need to attend to. You can’t just give in to his request, but then how can you say “No” without putting a smear of negative thought on your client’s mind.

Below are some situations and tips you need to keep in mind to be able to pull off that gutsy “No”.
1. Provide a Vivid Picture of Your Typical Work-day

Typically when a client decides to hire you as a long-term VA, he’ll be assessing your skills and would be curious about your work experiences. Often than not, he would also ask the best time that he can call you.

It would be good if you open up a bit of the things and practices you have learned from other clients and mention your schedule. In this way, your clients will have a clear idea of what to expect, and be aware of time-constraint limitations.
2. Always Be on Time and Send Updates

If you’re work starts at 8 a.m., be sure to be online at 8 a.m. That way, your clients can call you on their scheduled time when they have some urgent things needed to be done. Assess the magnitude of the task. If you think that the tasks cannot be completed in one sitting, inform your client about it, but do your best to accomplish what you can.

Take your breaks accordingly; you need to exhale but don’t over extend your breaks. Update your clients about the things you have accomplished for the day. Send them reports with attachments of the partially completed files if necessary.

If your client is on the rush, he might finish the task himself using the partially completed file you’ve sent without clamor knowing that you were not slacking and exerted effort to come up with your day’s output.

3. Hand your clients their rightful share of the pie

If you have multiple clients, the tendency is you are not spending equal amount of time working for them. Some may ask 4 hours, others ask 2 hours or even assign tasks on alternate days. This is where time management and proper schedule pacing comes in.

Stick to the game plan. No matter how little the time a client owns in your day’s schedule, use his time for his tasks. Make the most of it to accomplish all the things he assigned to you. After you have done this, you can now apply Tip #4.
4. Saying “No” doesn’t necessarily mean a complete “No”

Sometimes we tend to overanalyze things or hastily set our minds that a certain task will take a lot of time to be completed especially if we receive long email instructions or numerous separate emails.

Focusing our attention on the task at hand can make us work efficiently and thus saves us the time in doing the task. What we initially thought as a 2-hour work could possibly be finished in less than an hour. We can therefore go back to other unfinished tasks and complete them.

A Virtual Assistant should always strive to deliver quality services to his clients. Saying “No” sometimes makes us cringe but it is part of our work.

Taking into account these situations, when your client asks you to spend extra time for his tasks, don’t be afraid to say no, but don’t sound snooty. Tell him that you’ll be taking care of your other clients’ tasks first and will try your best to go back to take care of the remaining work.

Extend extra time if necessary, but if it is still not enough, clearly explain to the client the factors which makes the task arduous to finish and be polite in giving your remarks. As long as you know that you gave your best, there’s nothing to be afraid of.


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