Getting beyond ‚No’

The German ‘no’ can often come quickly, and seemingly without any consideration. The degree of hardness of that ‘no’ can vary, however. The most effective way to overcome a German ‘no’ is to first identify what the reasons are for it, then address them one after the other with convincing counterarguments.

‘No’ – for now. Germans, too, fear receiving a quick and hard no, from management, business partners and customers. It is not uncommon to receive such a ‘no’ from a customer, but then be invited to a dinner, during which the discussions address how the parties might at some point collaborate on a first project.

The hard and fast ‘no’ can become a flexible ‘no’, potentially even a ‘yes’. The German ‘no’ is seldom a definitive rejection. Instead it indicates that something, some aspect, certain details are not (yet) right, so that a German cannot (yet) commit. No often means “I cannot say yes based on what we have discussed thus far”. In such circumstances, Germans will actually use the word Jein, a combination of yes and no, signaling maybe.