If I put a dog leash around my neck and hand the leash’s end to you, what would you do?

You will pull the leash.


That is nature. That is how things work. Even in business. So when you make people your patrons, it’s no surprise that they patronize you.

Very often in our language, without realizing, we use words that create a meaning of submissiveness. This makes you appear weak, needy, desperate to your customer/client. And they start treating you that way.

When you do business with English speakers, it’s easy to lose command for 2 reasons:

  • Because you are not fluent and smooth in your English so you can’t lay out the terms as well as they can
  • Because they are your customer, you don’t want to rub them the wrong way and move to another service provider.

Happens. I understand.

At the beginning of my business, I would – for being too polite – listen too much and let my clients decide the terms. They would even call for unnecessary meetings every week, set up my prices and I wouldn’t say anything for the fear of losing the job.

Many well-meaning professionals screw up their business opportunities. When you’re talking to potential clients or potential employers or potential collaborators, they first try to weigh you and the moment they sense a weakness, they start puffing up their chest and pulling you around. It’s not because they are evil but that’s the usual tendency in business. It’s too late when you realize you’re already in the trap.

This happens too often with non-native English speakers.

The sooner one client starts doing this, it spreads around becomes a system and you are no longer the owner of your business.

Let me show you how that happens.

Does this video bring some uncomfortable memories for you too?

[I am not the creator of this video. It’s some other genius; see the description of the video ;)]

Do not let that happen to you. So what are your options?

How do you let them know you do not agree to these terms, that you are in a position to command, that they must back off – without you having to punch them, slap them, smash a bottle on their head or calling your lawyer?

It’s the language you use – your words – that tell them where you stand. I am giving you 5 phrases where smarter command on language can help you upgrade your business level with the clients.

Thank you but I have to politely say a firm no to it. Let’s honour the rates we agreed on when I started the work.

I insist that you do not bring up this suggestion again.

I do not appreciate…

I insist we honor our original contract…

These terms do not suit me. Instead, I propose

which clearly care for both of our interests better.

Pro-tip: Speaking slow & steady is better than getting stuck looking for words – that irritates and distracts native speakers.