It was great to meet you: learning how to say “no”

As I’ve progressed on my journey toward become a developer, I’ve encountered a strange problem: there’s a surplus of work being presented to me. I don’t mean that in an arrogant or conceited way, so allow me to further explain.

When people hear that you’ve quit school/work/life to become a front-end web developer, not too many people are sure of what that means. It’s then your job to explain that, in the simplest of terms (because nobody really wants to hear what SASS, Grunt, AngularJS or whatever new tool you’re excited about) that you make websites. At this point, the conversation will usually go something like this, “Oh, you make websites? That’s GREAT! I[‘ve been meaning to make a/ I know someone who needs a/ My company needs a] website for a [business/ school/ bake sale]”.

This, my friends, is where I had to make an important decision. I’ve had to say “no”, which is a little more difficult than it might sound. It’s extremely difficult to me because I’ve had no income over the past few weeks while I’ve been going through the HackerYou bootcamp. I’ve had to say no because while I’m flattered that people would select me to do work for them, I feel like I might sacrifice my opportunity to learn at HackerYou by becoming immersed in something other than the lessons and projects. If I’m being completely honest, it’s also usually due to the fact that most people’s budgets haven’t warranted me wanting to drop everything to work on their project (I realize this is a bold statement coming from someone who is more or less surviving on mustard sandwiches right now, but I don’t want to set a terrible precedent for either myself or my freelancing brothers and sisters).

I can usually get around seeming ungrateful for work passed my way by simply telling people that I know that I straight up avoid mixing personal and professional life at all costs because it can get super weird super fast. This is usually enough to explain myself, and everyone that I’ve told this to is very understanding, and I usually also have a handful of other people I can recommend in lieu of myself.

This is, as I understand it, a very Jerry Seinfeld approach to saying “no” to people. Why Jerry Seinfeld? In his latest show, he talks about how he’ll meet people in the street and have a quick conversation with them, ending it with the phrase “it was great to meet you”. That phrase it pretty much the most well-crafted phrase to essentially tell someone “this conversation is ending now”, while still giving them a compliment. What a guy. Class act all the way through.

Code is one thing that I knew that I would be developing my skill set in by coming to HackerYou, but I’ve found that I’m developing a whole new set of abilities that I hadn’t planned on: my people skills. These are the kinds of skills that you can try and teach all you want, but the truth of the matter is that you just have to socialize a lot, and put yourself in situation that might be uncomfortable at first, but let you grow immensely.


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