Hold Onto Your Buts!

It’s time to use your wonderful imagination for a moment…. imagine you’re with a close friend and they say “I really like you as my best friend, then pauses and says……but…”

What happens in your mind, even before they say anything else?

Ideally your very sensible, logical, and rational conscious mind is thinking… “I’ll wait and hear what they have to say, objectively analyse it before responding…”

This would be an AMAZING rational reaction indeed and the world would be a happier place to navigate if we could all react like this!  More often than not, however, our responses following the ‘but’ word are ones shrouded in negativity and emotion.

Let’s think about this, from a professional standpoint, I have seen many managers and coaches find solutions with their staff, receiving positive feedback from teams etc only to destroy it all with a BUT.

Why? Buts trigger our emotional response. As humans, the majority will lose their capacity to concentrate on anything that comes after the but…

Our unconscious and emotional response is to delete everything that came before the ‘but’, defaulting to the irrational and negative part of the mind and focussing only on everything following  the ‘but’. In other words, we unconsciously decide that everything after the ‘but’ is what they really think, feel or intend.

It’s as if ‘but’ cancels out everything that preceded it!

The poor little ‘but’ is a verbal landmine. The way you handled that situation was brilliant… but….

You did so well cleaning the car… but…

Your spelling is improving but…

I enjoyed this evening with you… but…

You deserve a promotion… but…

In all scenarios the person’s intent was to give valuable feedback, providing a place to learn and improve from and then the little ‘but’ instantly destroyed any chances of it being absorbed.

Solution? Try replacing ‘but’ with an ‘and’ AND enjoy the success that follows!

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