Ever listen to how most of us speak? Day in and day out, we connect our thoughts with “but”. In fact, it’s so common we barely hear ourselves say it. That is, unless we are on the receiving end. Then the word “but” seems to jump out at us. See how these statements feel:
I love the design you created but I’d like to share some of my ideas with you.
You’ve done good work on the end of month statements lately, but I’d like your team report a day or two earlier.
I understand your feelings, but I’d like to tell you how I feel.
Now, check out the same statements using “and” instead of “but” to connect the thoughts:
I love the design you created AND I’d like to share some of my ideas with you.
You’ve done good work on the end of month statements lately, AND I’d like your team report a day or two earlier.
I understand your feelings, AND I’d like to tell you how I feel.
The difference is subtle, but not so subtle that we don’t get the message. It feels corrective. It brings up defensiveness. Use of the word “but” negates what was said before it. And THAT is the what we react to. THAT is what makes us feel let down . We hear only the negative and throw out every positive word that preceded the “but.”
Connecting our thoughts with “but” is easy. It flows off our tongues without a thought. BUT, connecting thoughts with “and” gives a completely different meaning. By substituting “and” instead, we convey positive thoughts and reduce the tendency for others to react with defensiveness or explanation.
If both of your statements are true and neither one is meant to contradict the other, then try “and.” Need proof? For the next few days, tune in for the word “but.” Hear it. Hear yourself say it. Listen for it in conversation. Every time you hear it, mentally substitute “and” in its place. Then notice the difference. It’s a small shift in communications that makes a remarkable difference in meaning and interpretation.