Quick Tip

Avoid the “But”

avoid the but

Have you ever had one of those moments of miscommunication when you just can't figure out why someone is so upset? After all, you're in agreement, but s/he is hearing something else.

It might be that a simple twist of language is at fault. Often, we use two simple words interchangeably: But and And. The truth is, they take a conversation in very different directions.

The word “and” is generally positive – it adds something to a conversation. Even if there is disagreement, “and” can allow for people to find a way to agree to disagree. It keeps communication open and agreeable.

“But,” on the other hand, can take conversations in a negative direction. Even if there is basic agreement, the use of the word “but” can make someone feel disregarded or not heard.

So try this trick: replace the word “but” with the word “and.” Then, notice what happens. Does it get a different response? Does it begin to change how you think about what you're saying?  If nothing else, it will help you become really conscious about how you are using simple words that have a powerful impact.

Here are some examples:

Replace:   “I agree with you, but I don't want to do it that way.
With: “I agree with you, and I'd still like to try it a different way.”

Replace:  “I know you want to go to the movies, but I can't get you there.”
With:“I know you want to go to the movies, and I'm okay with that as long as you can get a ride there, and then I can pick you up”

Replace:   “I love you, but I don't like it when you interrupt me.”
With:  “I love you, and when you interrupt me it makes me a little crazy.”

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