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Learning how to say “No”

Learning how to say “No”

European Business Listicle 13/2019

A “No” is unpleasant. For both sides. You don’t want to leave your coworker or superior in the lurch, yet you have to draw a line. As soon as you can no longer finish your work, you have to pull the brake and say “No” – for the sake of your health as well as the company. We have a few suggestions for learning how finally to say “No”.

You have the right to say “No”

Saying “No” has a lot to do with your confidence. If you believe that others are more valuable than you, he will always need their appreciation and say “Yes” faster. Be clear on this: You have the right to say “No” even to your superior. Therefore, strengthening your own self-esteem is key to a successful “No”. Ask yourself why it’s so difficult for you to turn down certain people and try to recognize the reasons behind it. Then you can work on that.

Start in your thoughts

You have surely experienced situations where you couldn’t say “No”. Imagine such a situation and say “No” in your thoughts first. Imagine how the situation would normally go, but this time, end the whole thing with a clear “No”. Also imagine the other person’s reaction so you can prepare for the moment when this situation actually occurs.

A “No” doesn’t need an explanation

You’ve probably seen this statement before: “No is a complete sentence.” Don’t be afraid not to leave a “No” unexplained. The more you explain, the more defensive you become and the more your counterpart will try to persuade you to a “Yes”.

“This is the last time.”

If you can’t quite manage to say a definite “No,” you can also divert to a “This is the last time.” So you’re doing your counterpart a favour again, but signalize at the same time that you won’t be prepared to do it any more in the future. It is important that you present your statement seriously and unmistakably so that your counterpart clearly understands the line that’s been drawn.

Wait to respond

Don’t answer directly, but take some time for your response. Let them know that you first have to check your calendar and to-do lists and will get back to them as soon as possible. That way you avoid a premature “Yes”, which you can only take back with great difficulty. Important: Formulate your wish to think about it not as a request but as a statement. You’re not the one asking; your counterpart is. Look if you really CAN and WANT TO do the work or favour requested, and decline if that’s not the case.

Suggest an alternative

If you have an idea of how a problem can be solved differently without your help, definitely say so to the person asking for your help. That way you’ll have helped him but you don’t need to spend your time. At the same time, you give the signal that you’re not available.

Practice, practice, practice

You’ve never managed to say “No”? Then you surely won’t become a pro just by reading this. If saying “No” doesn’t work right away, stick with it and ask yourself what was holding you back in the situation. With time, it will become easier to say “No”, so definitely keep trying!

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