NO – only two letters and yet you often find it so difficult to speak them out loudly? It’s high time to finally stand by your needs and set your limits! Here are my tips for saying no with confidence.
When a colleague asked me a few years ago if I would like to offer a coaching program for children with her, my answer was so clear all at once: „No, thanks, that’s not my cup of tea!“ I just had the words pronounced without thinking. Because it was completely obvious to me that my specialization in women in business just felt right for me.
But I don’t always succeed in saying no so clearly and unequivocally. When my little daughter recently stood in front of me to persuade me to play, my enthusiasm was rather limited. I still had a lot to do and to be honest, I’m not the kind of mom who likes to spend hours immersed in fantasy worlds. Still, I didn’t want to refuse her request. So I said yes and put my own needs aside. A conscious decision and yet I would have preferred to say no … hm …
This brings us to a point that might also move you: In many situations we say yes, although we would actually rather say no. And while I was happy to refrain from setting boundaries for my daughter, this is not always the case in other situations in everyday life.
In order to recognize when you say yes while you mean no, it is first important to realize which people are usually involved:
- In your private life (children, partner, family, friends, parents)
- In your professional life (collegues, boss)
You will have noticed that one person is missing from this list: YOU! Because very often we don’t need anyone else to violate our boundaries. We can also do this wonderfully alone. For example, when we feel responsible for things we are not. Or when we break the non-negotiable contracts we have made with ourselves.
Your boss is asking you to stay longer again? Does your husband take it for granted that you take care of the weekend shopping and the entire meal planning for the week? Does your son want you to iron his favorite shirt at 10 p.m.? And your mother asks you in all seriousness if you don’t want to visit grumpy Aunt Erni again, whom you couldn’t stand as a child.
Objectively, you probably don’t need to think twice in situations like these. In your head you know that this would meant to set a healthy boundary – you know this answer. But saying it, too, is another topic.
What prevents us from boldly saying no to our fellow human beings? Why is it so difficult for us to say no?
You want to be nice and everyone should like you. Is it ringing for you? We often demand of ourselves that we have to ensure harmony in our environment. In addition, there is our own perfectionism, which also often encounters a little helper syndrome. And you said yes again.
Fear of arguments and discussions – no healthy boundaries
If you say no, you must expect to meet with opposition. Because if you defend your own limits, you will automatically encounter limits in others. Very often we try to avoid these arguments. Our evolutionary desire to belong plays a major role in this. Back in the Stone Age, this urge not to be rejected by the group saved the lives of our ancestors.
But let’s be honest: The saber-toothed tiger is no longer lurking in front of the cave entrance and a clearing thunderstorm can do a lot.
„The others are more important than me.“
„I have to do what is expected of me.“
„I have to accomplish what I set out to do.“
Beliefs like these have settled in your head over the years and shape your entire perception. These ingrained ideas are passed on for up to seven generations. Identifying them is an important step in confidently saying no.
In addition to the beliefs that we carry within ourselves, there are also the values of our society. We have also adopted them through our upbringing and through external influences.
Is it even proper for women to confidently say no? Are women allowed to bang angrily on the table?
If you recognize which social values lead you to say yes rather than no, you can react differently in the corresponding situations.
Hand on heart – how many times have you said yes because you were longing for recognition and confirmation? When we say no, we are more likely to be met with rejection. A yes, on the other hand, saying yes will more likely result in praise, recognition and thanks. And these reactions feed directly into our reward centers in the brain. It just feels good to make people around us happy. Under no circumstances should this be at your expense.
My Tip for You
This article appears as a result of my new format Lunch&Learn. Once a month, in 60 minutes, I will bring you many valuable practical tips from the areas of mindset, personality development and business – short, crisp and compact during your lunch break.
You now know which people make you say yes, you know the reasons why you often reach your limits when saying no. But what can you do now to make it easier for you to say no and set healthy boundaries
Imagine you own a beautiful property. There is a pond, forest and beautiful meadows on it. You love this place, but unfortunately you forgot to put a fence around it. One day visitors are standing right on the shore of your swimming pond. They did not know that your property is privately owned. There was no fence and no sign. It’s the same with your limits: If you don’t set boundaries, nobody can observe them.
The reasons I have summarized for you above will help you with this.
What do you get out of it if you say NO full of power and strength? Many positive aspects of set healthy boundaries can result from this question. In any case, you gain respect for yourself, you gain respect and consciously do something for your mental health.
If you find it difficult to say no in general, it may not be the best idea to start tomorrow in a meeting with your manager. Practice in small situations in everyday life and take an example from small children. They say no without thinking and without a guilty conscience. If your three-year-old can do it, so can you!
Finally, I would like to give you my very personal tips that will help you to say no and set limits:
Clarify your expectations and those of others. Often we just believe that something is expected of us in a certain way.
The biggest beneficiaries of missing boundaries are the people who will get most upset when you say no. People will get upset, that’s legitimate. But how do you deal with it?
Before you spontaneously say yes, it’s better to say: I have to think about it first. This is how you create a time buffer.
Don’t be angry with others when they try to push your boundaries. Instead, think of it as a nice try at practicing saying no.
Give yourself permission to say no
Change perspective, how do you feel about people who always say yes?
Saying no always starts with you.
You can create the conditions for this yourself by knowing and learning about your own needs and consciously setting limits. The prerequisite for this is that you find out what prevents you from saying no. And then only one thing remains: practice, practice, practice.
Be good to yourself. Every little no is a big yes to yourself.
Now it’s your turn: How do you feel about SAYING NO, what do you struggle with in everyday life and how do you feel when you say YES again, although you mean NO? I’m looking forward to the exchange with you – we meet in the comments!
And don’t forget: Set healthy boundaries helps to be a respected business partner. 🙂
And you? What does your path look like – more often NO and less often YES … maybe I can help you with that, because a NO to others is a YES to yourself.
I invite you to develop a strategy for your next steps in a personal get-to-know-you conversation with me!