Correctly say "No" and set limits: friendly, but definitely!

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Saying "No" is difficult for many people. For different reasons: one does not want to disappoint anyone, the other wants to be good. Or you have - especially in the job - fear of negative consequences. But they are, if one always half-heartedly "yes" says, afterwards usually worse. It is therefore important to set limits in good time - friendly but determined.


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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisher, German Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.


Situations everyone knows


Almost everyone knows these typical situations when they are asked for something and simply believe that they can not say "no". For example, if the Chef urgently needs to do something, but at the same time and just as urgently another job must be completed.

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Who wants to risk being ignored on the next promotion or being on the kill list? So you choose the path of least resistance and say grudgingly "yes," even though you know that you can not do both at once.

The lesser evil with great consequences


This can have consequences: Anyone who always tries to make it right for others soon will not be able to cope well with their actual tasks. In addition, the others quickly get used to the fact that the yes-Sager always does everything and rely on it. Over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to say "no".

But nobody can always do everything satisfactorily and that is the problem. Because people, according to a study of the RespectResearchGroup at the University of Hamburg, have certain ideas about how competent and respectable persons should be: namely, trustworthy, reliable and fair.

A clear no is always better!


However, the confidence that others place in one is quickly shattered if one agrees to take on a task and then fails to do so due to time constraints. Chefs and colleagues are then often disappointed, as if you had rejected the same and rate one as unreliable. Therefore, it is almost always better to say "no" from the outset.

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This is also confirmed by the personal trainer Tanja Baum, author of the book "The art friendly, no 'to say": "No one can fulfill the wishes of the boss or his colleagues, so that there is always sunshine - and certainly not in everyday working life. However, those who take others seriously, put themselves in their position and provide good arguments as to why they have to reject a request usually reap the benefits of understanding. "

Consistent instead of rugged


Indeed. The sound makes the music. A harsh rejection for fear of being persuaded of something is usually just as wrong as a not serious "yes." Because other people always want to have the feeling that they are looking after them.

It is important to consistently say "no"! But like to be evaded when others have a request: "I would like to do that for you, but actually I still have ..." Behind it is the desire that the other will already notice that you would rather say "no" and automatically backtracked.

Half a "No" does not arrive


Unfortunately, wrong thought: Half a "No" does not arrive. Few people can or want to read between the lines and interpret uncertainty for their own benefit; the uncertain "no" is simply interpreted as an uncertain "yes": "Great that you do that .."

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Or the other one is upset because he realizes that one wants to talk out for sure. It's better to say it frankly and honestly that it does not fit right now - it is exactly this consequence that the other person will understand and respect.

Attention manipulation!


A half-hearted "no" also carries the risk of being manipulated: other people then appeal to compassion or subordinate egoism to give the no-sayer a guilty conscience, say, "I've already done so much this week. Do not let me down. "Or they are disappointed in the person:" You are always so reliable. But in the future I can not rely on you anymore ".

Such arguments should push the No-Sager on the defensive and make it, but still "Yes" to say. Even if it's hard: Friendly, but consistent in his opinion helps here the best.

Well argued is half won


It also helps to counteract manipulation by supporting his "no" with good arguments. Because it makes it clear that one does not simply turn out a request arbitrarily, but that there is a good reason for it. Other people can then better understand the "no". In addition, others have the impression that they are looking for them - this makes sense in dealing with bosses.

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For example, whoever shows his boss how busy the schedule is, or proves that overwork could also have negative consequences for the company, is convincing. The boss realizes that the "no" is well considered and appreciates that the employee acts responsibly. Important: Do not lapse into complaining or justify one's own opinion, but always objectively argue.

The pitcher goes to the well for so long ...


The pitcher goes to the well until it breaks. Especially those who say "yes" all the time run the risk of reacting to excessive demands at some point: instead of objectively saying "no", one suddenly becomes aggressive. By statements like "Do your stuff but yourself!" "I do not have time for such a thing" bosses and colleagues feel but mostly only really upset - also because they could not count on such a violent reaction.

It is therefore better to signal in good time "to this point and not further", so that the other knows where the limits are. When it comes to a dispute then: Uncompletely generalized allegations like: "you always with your exaggerated demands ... avoid" - the other probably does not know that he has overtaxed the one the whole time.



In order to react so rationally, it is important that you and your reactions are exactly known. What is important is therefore an in-depth self-analysis: What triggers another person's request? Does the situation awaken any unpleasant memories? What exactly interferes with the question? What exactly causes the stress? Why can not you be left?

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Maybe you can make your own pressure or your own time management is just bad and you can work on it. Perhaps the request of the boss or colleague is simply totally nonsensical, perhaps you have also not understood, what exactly is and can clarify exactly what is required.

Find compromises


The boss wants one thing, the employee wants something else. Bad luck, if the boss orders only authoritarian. But in many cases you can also talk to your boss, because usually it brings more when both together solve the problem.

In practice this means taking the boss seriously and putting himself into his situation. Look for similarities, not for differences, by showing the boss where common positions lie. Find possibilities for improvement and put the main focus of the argument, because then the boss has the feeling that one goes to him. Perhaps then together can be a better possibility.

Sell ​​the "no" positive


But even authoritarian bosses are persuaded that who instead of a simple "no" offers an alternative that is just as good or better, wins the boss for himself. This may look something like this: "Unfortunately, I can not accomplish this task today. But colleague Müller is currently free. For that I can support him optimally with his project, because I know the subject very well. This makes us all much more effective. "

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Such proposals facilitate the work on the one hand. But even more: the boss sees that the employees constructively think about the good of the company and will appreciate this quality. However: Here too the sound makes the music. Anyone who offers such an alternative should always choose an optimistic vocabulary, which has a more convincing effect on others.

Preparation is everything


Sometimes the role behavior of the "yes" tag has become such that you can solve the problem only with a fundamental, clarifying conversation about the distribution of tasks. However, this should be well prepared: the right strategy is important and arguments should be gathered for your overburden.

Also good: practice the argument at home, so that it is not so difficult to stay consistent. However, one should also ensure a positive basic mood: Those who are internally agitated and aggressive or has accumulated frustration is in danger of overburdening the other with uncharacteristic reproaches.

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  1. Marc

    Thank you for publishing your text, you are absolutely right, saying no is something that many people today can scarcely find. Therefore, such texts are extremely useful!

  2. Leo

    Really a fabulous contribution, because you learn for life. In fact, quite a lot of people can not set limits.

  3. Wilhelm Brammell

    Finally, a text that deserves to be read. Thanks for that!

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