This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.
I’m talking about the word “but.”
The problem: “But” has the effect of negating everything that comes before it. So those nice acknowledgements (“I know you’re really busy” … “You did a nice job” … “I’m sorry to have to tell you this”) are lost at best, and appear disingenuous at worst.
From a trust-building standpoint, this is bad.
The alternative? Try separating the two thoughts completely, as in two different sentences. Or maybe even two different conversations.
Do not try substituting “however”; it’s just a fancy “but.”
It’s true that not all uses of the word “but” are bad (“I cannot but admire your courage”). It’s just one of those words that we use so often, and usually without thinking, that we inevitably use it in problematic ways. My conclusion over the years: it’s better not to use it at all.
When participants in my workshops practice steering clear of “but” for 30 days, they report an interesting byproduct: a more collaborative mindset that naturally leads to more collaborative interactions.
From a trust-building standpoint, this is good.
See what happens when you make a conscious effort not to say or write “but” this week. What’s difficult? What’s beneficial?