Does Your "But" Get in the Way?
by Laurie Sudbrink on September 25th, 2015

Do you notice how the word “but” gets in the way? Typically the word “but” negates what came before it, and it often can put people on the defense.

We can positively or negatively influence our work environment by what words we use. While we may not realize it, we often respond to a newly introduced idea or goal by using words that reflect poorly on us, as well as on the team. While most of us have good intentions, we mistakenly use words that change the meaning of what we intend to say, such as:
  • I hear what you’re saying, but…
  • I’ll try my best.
  • I can’t say for sure, but I’ll give it a shot.
  • I can’t promise anything, but I’ll see what I can do.
Although the overall message seems to be positive, and the intent usually is positive, these words create a sense of doubt: BUT, TRY, CAN’T, & I’LL SEE.

We need to be more aware of this in our everyday life, especially when we are in meetings and on the phone with customers and/or business associates. The message we are sending when using those words (But, Try, Can’t, Won’t), is not the one we intend to send. We unknowingly send out messages of doubt, uncertainty and low self-esteem when we respond this way.

So how do we respond in a more confident and positive way? Begin by replacing "BUT, TRY, CAN’T, & WON’T" with more positive and constructive words.  Take a look at the list below:
  • WILL - I will get it done!
  • CAN - I can take care of this. I need to ask you a few questions.
  • AND - I hear what you’re saying, and I…  
While our words are not the only way we send messages, it is one place we can begin to be more confident and constructive. By getting our “but” out of the way, we can make room for more positive words!

Share with us in the comments below! What other words do you hear that get in the way? What other replacement words do you use? Feeling stuck? Ask our community for ideas.

Cheers,


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