It’s Hard to Communicate with a Big But.
No, that is not a typo. I’m not talking big butt’s like Sir Mix-a-Lot. I do, in fact, mean the little three letter conjunction that bridges two clauses together. Similar to “and,” but different.
See how I used it right there? The second clause negates the first. It is similar to “and,” but you know from just the little “but” that it is not as cool. And that’s how everyone uses it—a lot.
“Yeah yeah, everything you just said is fine, but—I’m not listening.”
But is exclusive. It comes from that place in you that didn’t hear a word the other person just said because you were too busy thinking about how your way of thinking is right and theirs is different and therefore wrong. A big “but” is like a fat “no” right in the middle of your sentence, casting a very subtle negative connotation across your communication.
You are denying, discounting or excluding whatever came previously.
Let’s use an example. You just asked a girl from an online dating site out for a date on Friday and this is her response:
“I’d really like to see you, but I have to wash my hair on Friday.”
You’ve just been iced out.
Let’s hear the and approach:
“I’d really like to see you, and I have to wash my hair…”
Much more likely that she really has to wash her hair on Friday, and she’ll probably even curl it for her date with you!
Can you feel the possibility? “And” is inclusive.
Even if the conclusion is a denial or refusal, it still comes from a much more open space of communication. Linguistically speaking, you can create more connection with “and“ rather than block your own message with “but.”
If nothing else, it can be an interesting exercise in listening and speaking to watch and feel your own expression and reaction to “but”.
Can you switch to “and”? What happens cognitively when you do? Check out the messages you and those around you are communicating ever so subtly.
No need to go overboard with this “exercise”—I still like big butts and I cannot lie!
Jenn Perell is a co-founder of Live Weal and an agent for positive change in this world. She is a born leader who loves working with people. Jenn has had the pleasure of traveling around the world educating, being educated, and making an all around positive impact on the people and places she comes into contact with.
Jenn recently earned her Masters Degree in Holistic Heath Education. She is passionate about applying the findings of her research to create healthy & prosperous corporate environments and experiences via the services & programs provided by Live Weal. She is a dynamic vinyasa yoga teacher, SUP yoga teacher and coach and has assisted yoga trainings in Bali, Africa, Mexico and throughout the U.S. and been involved with numerous events including Conscious Capitalism, Wanderlust and fundraising efforts throughout the world including Africa Yoga Project, Yoga Reaches Out and Yoga Aid. For more on Jenn, visit: JennPerell.com or email [email protected] Individual Coaching Sessions with Jenn are available by appointment.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel
Assistant Ed: Wendy Keslick