Avoid the word "but" in your conversationsBlog added by Steve Drozdeck on March 15, 2011

Steve Drozdeck

Logan, UT

Joined: August 21, 2010

My Company

Drozdeck & Assoc.

Want to lose prospects and friends? — Just keep on using the word “but."

When you say “but,” they may hear it as you calling them a “butt.”
Here’s a method to instantly alienate (initially unconsciously, then quite consciously) almost anyone you speak with. Just use the word “but” regularly. The word “but” can trigger an automatic defensive reaction in people you speak with.

This is how it works. When you use the word “but” it tells the other person that you are disagreeing with him or her. For example, “That’s an interesting idea, BUT, I think …” The person hearing this knows that you are going to disagree with him or her and that the first part of the sentence — “That’s an interesting idea” — is something that you don’t really believe.
So, for the next day or so, pay close attention to how often you use the word “but” and realize that whenever you do so you’re negating what the other person said — potentially making them feel as if you don’t care or are disregarding their thoughts, feelings, or concerns. It is almost a mental slap on the face. Do it too often and you will crate an unconscious (or conscious) negative, defensive reaction that will hurt or kill the relationship.
The alternatives to using “but” are starting a new sentence and/or using the word “and.” For example, “That’s an interesting idea. Another way of looking at the situation is …” or “That’s an interesting idea, and another way of looking at the situation is …” You avoid triggering the defensive reaction
If you pay attention to yourself for the next couple of days, you’ll probably be appalled at how often you called the other person a “butt.” By the third or fourth day, you’ll start shifting your pattern and create a positive habit to replace the destructive one.
Another fighting word is “yet,” especially if it is emphasized. Same is true for “however.” Yet, neither “yet” nor “however” usually have the ability to be as destructive as “but.”
In addition to paying attention to your usage of such words, it is often wise to enlist the help of one or two people that you see on a regular basis. After all, it is often difficult for us to here something that is part of our unconscious speech pattern. Other people, however, will more easily hear it, and they may already be very aware of your usage. Don’t be surprised if you get an earful.
But, it’ll be very valuable information for you to have.
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