If we keep responding to the requests of others without taking our own needs into account, we run the risk of damaging our health and getting overloaded free. The reasons for a yes, even though we mean no, are numerous: fear of rejection, negative consequences and loss of face. Or the fear of missing out on something often makes us nod faster than we can say no. But a polite and equally determined NO works wonders not only for our health, but also for the elimination of time wasters and secondary theaters of war that prevent us from focusing on the essentials.
Pause and think time
When do we say yes when we actually mean no? Anyone who is aware of their own “gun at their feet” issues pauses before answering. Often a good or “bad” feeling in the stomach area quickly sets in anyway. If you listen to the inner voices and your / your gut feeling, you can easily say yes or no.
Most of the time we don’t have to answer immediately and can ask for time to think about it. If your sports buddy suggests a weekend excursion in a camper, but you tend to go for a city trip with a preference for four-star hotels, it makes sense to let the idea sink in for a while and later with a clear acceptance or rejection to report to him.
And in addition, we can say no – if we mean it – time limit. With a friendly feedback to the colleague that we have no gap this week to help her create the presentation, but that there will be free space again at the end of the coming week.
Even a no is like a muscle that needs to be trained. If you want to slowly approach, try a no to harmless questions and requests. You will discover that you will gradually find it easier to get the four letters out of your mouth.
Stand up to vanity & manipulation
We don’t always have to be the one colleague who answers every wish and request from the desk diagonally across the street without blinking an eyelid with a yes. Just because we used to run or wanted to run under the label of superwoman or “Terminator”, we don’t have to constantly provide new feed to our inner drivers and our perfectionism.
When faced with the fear of rejection if we do not want to comply with a request, it is helpful to remember how often we ourselves receive a no from our fellow human beings and we were probably not immediately devastated. In the worst case, what do we fear in the event of a cancellation? One thing is certain: even if we say no again, the colleague with whom we already enjoy working will continue to like us.
We can meet conspiratorial, manipulative compliments that appeal to our vanity with a wink. If a colleague wants to squeeze the organization of the Christmas party on us again because we “always create the coolest parties”, we can answer with a “No to the festival committee” for lack of time and thank them for the praise.
Role check & alternatives
With beloved colleagues or even “fellow colleagues”, we can easily get into a role conflict to the disadvantage of a no. It is expedient to separate the role of friend and work colleague from one another. Usually it is easier for us to answer: “You know that I always support you“ privately ”as best I can. I would really like to help you as your friend. Here at work, however, I am in the same situation as you: please find another solution. “
As delicate and uncomfortable as such situations are, it is important to make yourself and the other person aware that a no to the request does not mean the end of the friendly relationship.
In addition, it is helpful not to offend anyone if you show understanding and offer alternatives: “I can understand that you urgently need support with this request. Unfortunately I don’t have any free capacities, please ask Gunnar’s team, they should have more leeway again from tomorrow ”.
Nonchalance & clear language
Most of the time, before a no is given in our head cinema, a much bigger drama takes place than reality would ever bring us: Whoever expresses a no casually, of course, undramatically without justification and long explanations, often conveys this attitude to the supplicant. “No, that doesn’t fit right now,” is often enough to put an end to discussions in advance. Coupled with an open, friendly look without “scratchy feet”, there is no doubt about your no.
In addition, use clear language, without soft-focus subjunctive or restrictive words such as “maybe” or “actually”. Otherwise hope may flare up at the recipient or a question may arise instead of a clear rejection.
As purposeful as helpfulness, inner seclusion, reflection and a change of perspective in any other area of life may be: We don’t have to put on every shoe and make strange problems our own. Your “do-it-yourself” enthusiastic neighbor does not get any further with the assembly of the closet despite the tools you borrowed and asks you for help shortly before your dinner evening? Who has a problem The neighbor. And so who has to solve the problem? The neighbor, not you.
If we decide to say no, we are, as it were, with a yes to the alternative. And we also choose any situation that we bring about with an unwanted and half-hearted yes. Does a yes answer to your values and goals count or do you torpedo your most important wishes and projects?
For inner balance and well-being, ask yourself what really counts for you: If a relaxed evening with the family is your greatest good, you should ask yourself whether you have to answer the e-mails of non-time-critical customers after work or whether a “no” to digital constant intoxication is not more value affine.
Lena Wittneben writes here regularly for Personal-Financial.com. She is a systemic coach, memory trainer and speaker – more at lena-wittneben.de The weekly interview podcast “There is a crack in everything…” is available free of charge on Itunes, Spotify or their website.