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As a freelance teacher, there are times when you have pressing reasons to say “no” and yet you don’t for all the wrong reasons. For example, when you want (or need) to earn the money. Or, you say “yes” to the student because you believe you will lose other students if you refused just this once… Isn’t this illogical? Isn’t it similar to boycotting a teacher just because he does not (once) have a free time slot in his calendar?

How often have you ordered a CD in a shop only to be told it’s temporarily out of stock? Is it logical to boycott the shop? Or would you order the CD and wait for it to arrive and then pick it up? Alternatively, you could try to find it in another shop? Whatever your decision… would you spread the word “the CD” is unavailable and recommend to avoid the shop – to all and sundry? I think not.

What would happen if you said “yes” rather than “no”?

What could happen if you went against your common sense and instead of saying “no” you accepted because you needed the money?

There are several good reasons – to say “no” to a prospective student and customer because you may be inviting other and more difficult problems; not least being the problem of lost students and customers, health and peace of mind.

Here are three reasons why “no” is a better answer:

(1)   When you don’t have time to do a good job

(2)   When the student and customer demands goes against your ethics

(3)   When you feel “unsafe” with the student and customer

Let’s go through each of these reasons briefly:

When you don’t have time to do a good job

One reason to say “no” is when your work calendar and your student’s calendar cannot find an optimal timeslot to work together. Another variant is that your calendar is full and you simply don’t have a free timeslot available during your working hours – unless you are prepared to upset your work-life balance and infringe on your private or family time. Both reasons lead to the same question: will the quality of your work deteriorate if you fulfil your student’s wish to squeeze him into your calendar “somehow”?

When you don’t have time to do the best work you can, ask the student if you can contact him when you have a timeslot free, or let the student leave and say “no.”


When the demands of your student and customer go against your ethics

Say “no” when the student and customer demand work or special favours that go against your personal code of conduct. You are going to feel bad about doing it and your student and customer working relationship will deteriorate faster than you expect. It will leave a nasty taste and you never will know if it’s also going to leave a nasty taste in your ex-student and customer’s mouth, too.

When you feel “unsafe” with the student and customer

Nasty is also when your gut feeling tells you “there’s something about this person that is not quite right…” Are you willing to remain in the same room or house – alone – with this person? Pay attention to your feelings. These so-called “gut feelings” have developed over a lifetime – your lifetime – of experience. Call it common sense, if you prefer, but it uses your intelligence skills accumulated over the years to analyse your situation quite accurately. Why mistrust it?

If you feel unsafe with the person, don’t ignore your gut feelings. Despite all the gloom and logical debates to the contrary going on inside your head, I can only recommend you to do one thing: Say no! Lady Luck is known to be fickle – especially in comparison to your common sense.

Summary and Next Steps

In conclusion there are times when you (as a freelance teacher) will have pressing reasons to say “no” rather than “yes” – not least to preserve your health and peace of mind. It’s a fine tightrope walk and your balance can get very wobbly from time to time. Your next step and learning is to listen to the gut feelings you’ve developed over a lifetime of experience.



Learning to refuse a student and customer

Learning to refuse a student and customer

Say NO when…

(1)   You don’t have time to do a good job

(2)   The student and customer demands goes against your ethics

(3)   You feel “unsafe” with the student and customer

Your “unwanted” student and customer may come and go, but you are the person you have to live with for the rest of your life.


What Do You Think?

Do you have something you would like to add or say about your experiences? Add your comments and suggestions in Leave A Reply Comment box below…

One Comment (Add Yours)

  1. All I can say is I must agree and sometimes you have to say YES to NO!


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