The Positive No

Learn how to say “no”. This can change your life. We have to learn that it’s important to not accept everything others ask us to do, and to say no in a positive manner, that won’t cause you problems. Here I’ll explain the “positive no” technique and why it’s important.

Saying “no” is important because we’re limited. Saying “no” allows us to say “yes” to those things that are important to us, those things that’ll fulfill our purpose.

You have a purpose and you must live your dharma. In the book, “The 3T Path” (, I explain in detail the concept of dharma how this is an essential component of a great life as well as your self-realization. Your dharma is your essence. To live your dharma means to fulfill your purpose, to be you. It’s your essence in action.

You must, therefore, act within your dharma. If you accept a task that’s outside your dharma, you are violating yourself, and failing to do something that was a part of you. This is why it’s essential to say “no” to get a “yes”.

The researcher William Ury, co-founder of the Program of Negotiation at Harvard University, developed the concept of the positive no. The “no”, he says, that’ll take you to a “yes”. After all, if somebody asks us for something, they’re opening themselves up to us. This opening, this call for help, should not be ignored or mistreated. The “no” should be delivered in such a way that you don’t create ill-will or hurt. It should be an enlightened “no”, based on reason. You’re not saying “no” out of spite or laziness, but because you sincerely and truly have another more important use of your time and energy.

The positive “no” works like this:

  1. You value the person and what they’re trying to accomplish. When someone is asking you for help, understand what it is they want and what they’re trying to accomplish. Express your appreciation of what they’re trying to do. Make it real, from the heart. This, by itself, will brighten that person’s day.
  2. Value your own actions and purpose. Explain what it is you’re doing and how it’s important as an expression of who you are. Sometimes people just ask you to do things because they don’t care about you and know nothing about what you’re doing. They might be seeing you only as a means to facilitate their goals. This is where you enlighten the person as to your purpose and actions.
  3. Because you have your goals, you explain that you’re busy and cannot assume the task they asked of you. The fact that you’re busy in your purpose explains why you cannot drop that and take up someone else’s work, or be part of some other project. You already have something to do, so you cannot do something else as well. It’s logical, not personal. It’s not a slight or an offense. It’s just the facts of life.
  4. Close it with a “yes”. Having explained that you cannot do what the person asked, you can find out how you can help in some other way, that’s within the boundaries of your dharma. Maybe you find someone who can do what they wanted, or you can give a suggestion and point them in the right direction. Show you care and that you want to support the person.

Helping others is great. We want to serve and be useful. We want to see others happy. But we must do this within our dharma, according to our nature and within the confines imposed by reality. The positive no will give you the technique these often delicate moments of being firm, but without seeming harsh and uncaring. It’ll help you stay on track of your objectives while still preserving your relationships.

Watch my video on this topic here.

Look what they’re saying about The 3T Path book: “a fantastic and very revealing book” – Pedro Rodrigues


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