Posted by: drewdice | June 11, 2014

The tyranny of BUT!


Words matter. Some studies show that as much as 93% of communication effectiveness is determined by non verbal elements (body language, tone, inflection, pace of speech), and that only 7% is determined by actual word choice.

And, words matter.

Do you remember that conversation when your coworker or boss said: “I love your idea/thought/suggestion/approach/proposal, BUT……..”?

Do you remember that time you were ready to go to the event, and your significant other/spouse said: “Honey, you look great, BUT……”?

Words matter. “BUT” really matters. Those three letters have such semantic force, that they can completely eradicate every positive word and all the positive intent you had in your message. “BUT” reverses the entire point of the discussion. So, if your approach is to try to pump someone up, or to accentuate the positive before providing constructive criticism, there are more effective ways.

Try “AND”, as a building block. For example, “I love your idea/thought/suggestion/approach/proposal, AND, what do you think would be the impact if we…..”, or “Honey, you look great, and the striped shirt really accents the feature of……”

Yes, AND, as opposed to Yes, BUT. Minor shift in words. Huge semantic and emotional impact.


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