The Big BUT

BUT negates, blocks, stops
changes meaning of what’s said
negates, then deflates

 As I said in my last post, BUT negates everything said beforehand. Somehow this little conjunction has crept and crawled its way into our language. If you took the collaboration challenge, I’m sure you were shocked at just how often the word BUT is used in everyday conversation.

Sometimes it is used unintentionally as filler, such as “um” and “ah,” or a replacement for “and.” Most often, however, it truly conveys its real meaning and is used for contrast, negation, and apology for what is about to be said. The speaker most often doesn’t realize the depths of the negative impact the word has, but the blow is strongly received and felt by the listener.

The connotation is ingrained in us, and our natural reaction is to accept and internalize the negative meaning.

A commonly taught technique is to just replace the word BUT with the word “and.” It’s a good place to start, and I often use this technique myself when I catch BUT sneaking back into my vernacular. Replacing BUT with “and” helps bring awareness to my own speech and meaning. Am I subconsciously making an argument or debating the topic? Or did I just want to provide another point of view and expand on the other person’s idea? Replacing BUT with “and” will quickly help you determine which is the case.

To move to the next level and truly change mere conversation to connected collaboration, take the next collaboration challenge.

Collaboration Challenge

Spend a week or two focusing on when you use the word BUT.   Whenever it is appropriate, replace the word BUT with and.

Start a collaboration journal or list.   At the end of each day (or each meeting/conversation, if that works better for you), jot a couple notes down as to when you use BUT, if you were using it as intended, and if simply replacing BUT with and was effective.

At the end of two weeks, review your notes and reflect on the meaning of BUT and and in your language. In your review process, reflect not just on when and how, but also on ways you can re-word and re-think your approach to be more collaborative in each conversation.

5 Words That Kill Team Productivity

This post is the first in a series about the 5 words that kill team productivity. Read more about the other 4 words that also kill team productivity.

Related Posts

No Comments Yet.

Leave a Comment