« Managers: Avoid Comparing People | Main | How To Avoid the Business Proposal Question Trap »


Devon Shane

"'Don't's' do not always define the 'Do's.'" What a wonderful quote and a true statement! It is true that people don't generally think or remember in negative terms. Telling people what should be done versus what not to do is always going to provide clearer communication and less room for interpretation as well as be remembered more easily.

Marree Saltaformaggio

LOVED THIS! This is so true and yet why is it so difficult to follow? I find my staff are much more responsive to the positive of whatever is presented rather than "Thou shall not!". If we have to say "don't" then it should always be preceded with "please do this a,b,c". IF you don't ask specifically for what you want then you get what others can only think you need.

Steve Roesler

Hi, Devon

Appreciate the affirmation. I wonder if it would be beneficial for organizations to conduct some training, with examples (pro and con), to help people develop the habit of "Defining the Do"?

Steve Roesler


Your last line is a lesson to be heeded by everyone. The mind abhors a vacuum. People will try to fill it and the ingredients may be an unwelcome surprise!

Thanks for weighing in.


"Dont's" do NOT mean "Do" - simply stated.

This post made me think of the time when I was asked by a mentor-what I want out of life; I immediately started off with
"I don't know what to do.. but I certainly..."

- "don't want to have an unhappy job"
- "don't want to have an empty bank account".
- "don't want to be alone"
- "don't want to be in the situation where I am in now"

Thinking of what I said that time made me realize that those statements did not clearly give me a guide on what I will do to have a good life.

"Dont's do not clearly state what the goal or the course of action should be. It is the "do's" that determine definite results.

So next time, whether it is about managing my team or my personal life, start I shall start my statements with "do.."

Steve Roesler


Well, in your case, the responses to your mentor were quite natural. Although the same principles apply, my post was about giving directions. However, when sorting out our lives, it's natural and common to sort through the "don't wants" until we arrive at the "dos" that emerge. As you rightly concluded, it's at that point that we see the positive actions that can follow.

Thanks for adding to the discussion.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Steve Roesler, Principal & Founder
The Steve Roesler Group
Office: 609.654.7376
Mobile: 856.275.4002

Enter your name and email address to receive your copy of my coaching eGuide.

Human Resources Today
Business Blogs



  • View Steve Roesler's profile on LinkedIn
Personal Growth from SelfGrowth.com

Get Updates via RSS Feed

  • Enter your email address in the yellow box for FREE daily updates

    Powered by FeedBlitz

Awards & Recognition...

  • Career 100
Alltop, all the top stories