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How To Say “No” (Without Being a Jerk)

April 28, 2014

Something I had to wait and learn until after college was how to say “no.” (No offense, Salem State. You were awesome.) After narrowing down my acting goals, I now primarily audition for projects that relate to those. But every now and then, something else falls in my lap. I might get an email out of the blue from an old director. Or a student film director reaches out who has my info.

This leads the ever-so-familiar, “Tony’s long and excruciating thought process.”

Side note: I use this silly title for a reason. Having to decide whether or not to take a role is what I like to call a “good problem.” While being offered this type of work might not be in line with your goals, it’s still work! Should you find yourself in this situation, take a minute and appreciate this before letting the stress soak in.

Back to the “long and excruciating” part: I usually ask myself a few questions. They range from whether or not they pay and what kind of time commitment the project involves….but especially the part about pay. Often, even with pay, you just need to say, “No, thank you.” This can be extremely uncomfortable. You don’t want to offend the person you’re saying no to. Especially if it’s a friend or someone you’d like to work with in the future.

So how do we do this??

Something I learned from Bob Burg is to just be honest. Here’s a quick video (about two minutes) where he discusses the very topic.

On the other hand, sometimes we find ourselves on the other end. For example, we want to reach out to a friend to take on a role in our show. Here’s some great advice from Dallas Travers (who doesn’t give any other kind of advice, let’s be honest) on what to do when asking:

1) Be specific on what you’re asking them to do.

2) Honor the relationship first.

3) Give them an out.

Moral of the story: Be polite, regardless of which side you’re coming from. And incorporate more Bob Burg and Dallas Travers in your life.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2014 1:50 am

    One thing I’m grateful for in my theatrical career is that I’m currently booked with shows until early September. It’s great, but it also means that I’ve lately had to learn about the difficulties of having to say no. It’s not easy, but reading this hopefully made me a bit better at it. Thanks for the awesome post (as you and all other Green Room Bloggers have so many of them)!

    • April 29, 2014 8:01 pm

      Thanks, Crazy Theatre Artist! I think it’s important to address this topic, regardless of what side you’re coming from.

      Also, congrats on being booked until September!! That’s great news. Hope the show(s) all go well =)

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