“AND” not “BUT.” How one simple word can change conversations for the better

April 15th, 2012

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Warning: This tip is a game changer. It is something you can actively do to change your life for the better starting today. And it involves the way you talk (and listen) to other people. Well I’lllllll beeeee…

Try this: Erase the word “BUT” from your vocabulary and replace it with “AND.”

Here’s why. The word “BUT” does a really unbelievable job of NEGATING statements. If your goal is to win someone towards your way of thinking, or to have a conversation that keeps the other person open (and not closed off or guarded), you need to replace your “BUTS” with “ANDS.”

Here are some examples to articulate:

1. “Rachel. I think your idea is great, BUT I think we should spend some more time on this product launch.”

Deciphered: Your idea actually kind of sucks, Rachel.

2. “Billy. You are doing an awesome job, BUT I think you need to focus on hitting your deadlines.”

Deciphered: Billy. You’re actually not doing an awesome job. You need to start taking deadlines seriously. And if you cant get your shit together, I’m going to be pissed. DAMNIT BILLY! DAMNITTTTT.

In these two cases, the BUT negates the first statement.

Now try this. Instead of using the word BUT, try the word AND.

1. “Rachel. I think your idea is great, AND I think we should spend some more time on the product launch.”

Deciphered: Rachel, your idea is great. And we should spend some more time on the product launch because it’s also really important.

2. “Billy, I agree you are doing an awesome job, AND I think he needs to focus on hitting his deadlines.”

Deciphered: Billy. You are doing an awesome job. And if you could spend some more time focusing on timing and details, you’ll hit your deadlines, and this will make me really happy.

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The next time you have a team meeting and other people are talking to one another, remember this lesson. And listen for the word “BUT.” It is often used. And when you hear it, pay attention to the way the person who is listening to the conversation responds. It is highly likely that they are put on the defensive. It is highly likely that they are more combative. It is highly likely that they become more guarded. The word “BUT” does not include. It negates. And it affects conversations in a significant way.

AND, not BUT. Try it.

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