Losing Your “BUT” Is Harder When Communicating Than It is Trying to Lose Weight

“You’re contradicting yourself when you say we have to be direct and candid, but we can’t use the word “but” to make our point in response.”

This claim came from an audience member in a recent deep dive session at a client’s company event last week.

I get it.

When we’ve developed a habit of communicating a particular way, doing something different feels, well, uncomfortable.

“It’s too soft,” I’m often told, or…

“I don’t want to have to dance around an issue to figure out how not to say “BUT” so the other person doesn’t get their feelings hurt.”

I always respond

“I agree. You shouldn’t be couching your communication to prevent someone from getting his or her feelings hurt.”

As the other person responds back confused, I ask,

“Isn’t want you want is a way to respond so the other person continues to be open to hearing what you have to say so that it leads to a positive, productive conversation that maintains or builds a trusting relationship?”

To that everyone says, “yes, absolutely.”NO_BUT

Then I tell them, “Then, one of the best ways to do that is to lose your “BUTs,” (and your “Howevers, and althoughs.”).

I know it’s hard at first.

Champion communicators do this extremely well.

It takes practice, just like every other skill you’ve ever developed.

It takes a more conscious approach to your interpersonal communication.

And, it is absolutely worth it.

Using “BUT” or one of its related phrases, negates everything that comes before it.

It sends a disingenuous message and quite frankly makes the person delivering it look uncaring.

It causes the other person:

  • to stop listening
  • to feel unheard
  • to feel disrespected
  • to not believe the other person’s initial positive statement
  • to not want to continue the conversation

It was interesting to hear people in the audience agree that when they were on the receiving end of the “BUT” phrase, it led to those internal feelings.

Yet, those same people when pushed to communicate without using the “but,” felt it was not effective to make their point.

Leave a comment below and in the next article I’ll share typical phrases that often come with a “but” transition and how to transition differently that is not soft or too convoluted. It will be direct, candid and to the point.

’til next time, Communicate with Power,

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