Think back to the last time you said something and the person you were talking to said, “But…” I bet that felt great! We all love it when that happens!
When we hear “but” we hear rejection, negativity, correction and worse. It says, I heard you, but here’s where you’re wrong.
Does it make you like the person who said it? Does it make you more likely to agree with them and want to work with them? No! So why do we say it to other people all the time?
But, Greg! Sometimes other people are wrong. Am I just supposed to act like they’re right so they’ll like me?
No, of course not. (And did you notice you used, “but” again? It kind of put me on the defensive.) Here’s my point. How about if there was a better way to explain your point without having to overtly disagree?
Try this. Eliminate the word “but” from your vocabulary. Instead use “and,” or when you can, “yes, and.”
Which of these would work better if someone said it to you?
“I hear what you’re saying, Stacy, but I think this way fits our needs better.”
“I hear what you’re saying, Stacy, and I think this way fits our needs better.”
“You did a great job, Stan, but…
“You did a great job, Stan, and…
“I completed 5 things on my to do list, but I didn’t do 3 others.”
“I completed 5 things on my to do list, and I’m going to do the last three first thing in the morning.”
The word “but” can even shut down great possibilities.
“I want to see Australia, but I’m afraid of flying.”
Well, I guess you’re never going down under, Mate! No shrimp on the barbi for you. Keith Urban and Crocodile Dundee will always be strangers. The cute koalas are out of reach. You’ll never box a kangaroo…(OK, I’m out of Australia ideas) How about this, instead:
“I want to see Australia, and I’m afraid of flying.”
You’re still afraid of flying and it sounds like you’re open to working on that. Now you can find a way to overcome your fear and go see the Sydney Opera House. (I thought of one more Aussie thing!)
I know changing “but” to “and” is a small change, and it can really help build rapport and increase your influence.
Try it for a week and see what happens. It will take some practice, and it’s worth it.