If bae say no to bullying

Saying no at work - tips on how to set limits at work.

You should learn to say “no” early enough in your job. If the situation demands it, even to your own boss. Why? Saying no not only strengthens your own self-confidence, but also protects against stress and overload. Graduate psychologist Beata Wagener explains the limits of saying yes and gives us tips on how best to say no at work.

"Can you just quickly again please ...". Who doesn't know this, usually rhetorical, question from colleagues? Many, especially young professionals, like to answer “yes” across the board. But be careful, yes people often suffer from overload and excessive demands, their self-confidence is weakened. That is why it is very important that you reduce your stress level and that includes saying no, says graduate psychologist Beata Wagener. She explains to us in a joint conversation about saying no at work and gives tips on how to cleverly say no.

Orizon: Ms. Wagener, it is difficult for many people to say no at work, even though they may already be at the end of their capacities. In your opinion, where has a limit been reached where one should clearly say no?

Beata Wagener: That is a very individual question. And also needs individual answers. One endures more and the other less. It becomes critical when you no longer have time for your own needs and tasks. That makes you dissatisfied in the long run. When this point comes, you should just make it clear to yourself: “What does it cost me to say yes all the time?” Sometimes it helps to sit down and write down how much time you actually invest in the tasks of others. And how much time you lack for your own tasks as a result.

Orizon: Why are so many people lacking the courage to say no?

Beata Wagener: This is connected with a primal fear of rejection and exclusion. These fears are more pronounced for some people than for others and so every no will cost a lot of effort. One is afraid of possible negative consequences. You fear that you will no longer be liked, no longer count as a team player, be labeled an egoist, be a bad friend and / or not be a good employee and put your job at risk with a no.

A harsh no can also offend the other person. Of course you don't want that. Women in particular often have problems saying no. Here I can really only point out that the no in itself does not influence the reaction of the other, but HOW to say no. If I package one no well, I can positively influence the reaction of the other.

Orizon: Are there strategies to become a “no-sayer”?

Beata Wagener: There are at least several ways to say no without offending the other. It is important that you make it clear that the no does not refer to the person, but to the task you are supposed to take on and the situation in which it is asked. A well-founded no is much easier for the other person to digest. This shows that you are generally ready to help, but currently have important tasks to do yourself that you must complete first. And so the feared negative consequence does not materialize.

• Well-founded no: “I'm sorry, I would like to help / support you, but (for this and that reason I unfortunately cannot), otherwise / with pleasure another time”.

• Well-founded no, with alternatives: "I'm sorry, unfortunately I can't now (for this and that reason), but tomorrow / next week I'll be happy to support you."

• Show understanding: "I'm sorry that you are so stressed out, I understand you and your topics are certainly at least as important as mine, but I feel the same way and unfortunately I have enough to do myself at the moment." you are welcome to give a piece of advice / tip. "Maybe this and that would help, or maybe XY has capacities."

Another strategy is this: You place a NO sticky note in your field of vision. That sounds very banal, but it has two positive aspects:

1. You have a marker that makes you pause for a moment so you don't immediately say yes when someone asks you to do a task. Instead, take a moment to think about it and then ask yourself these 4 questions: Do I have time to support? Do I benefit myself if I help? Do I expose myself to any pressure? And after that, am I angry with myself or the other person for saying yes again? You can then decide within seconds whether you can answer your colleague's request with a clear yes or no with a clear conscience.

2. But the whole thing has a second positive effect. Colleagues who walk past your workplace, see the NO and ask what makes sense, can immediately explain that they have not been able to complete their own tasks recently because of all the additional tasks to have. This clearly signals “I am no longer ready to always take everything uncompromisingly on myself!” And at the same time has an educational effect. Important: Talk to your colleagues and explain to them why you might say no more often in the near future. You can then assume that your colleagues will no longer come to you with every lapalie.

Orizon: What if I said yes too hastily once again?

Beata Wagener: If YES slipped too quickly from your lips (again), you can take it back in an emergency. You should do this as soon as possible, however, by approaching the person and saying that when you accepted you did not consider that you have so much on the table yourself and are therefore unfortunately not available. So you can correct the annoying feeling that you said yes too quickly or that you were caught off guard with a good feeling.

Orizon: And how do you deal with the disappointment of colleagues to whom you have just said “no”?

Beata Wagener: A well-founded no, which we talked about above, is much easier for the other person to accept. And this usually means that the feared negative consequences do not occur. Colleagues will not be disappointed if you justify your no and choose the right words. Many even react in surprise to the lack of negative reaction from the other party. Give it a try.

It is very important to find a balance for yourself. The point is not to become a “no-sayer”, but to determine for yourself when your personal limit has been reached.

Our interview partner Beata Wagener is a graduate psychologist and works as Director Mental Health at GROW Human Excellence GmbH in Hamburg.

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