Leadership Tip of the Week
The word BUT is a sneaky word. People often say things like: “I’d love to do it, but I don’t have the time, money and the credentials”, “I am really afraid of taking the risk, but I am going to do it anyway”, “I wish we could create this new innovative program, but they’ll never allow it”, “We don’t have all the answers, but I think we should take a stand.” We all use this word in conversations all the time without realizing how undermining it is.
When a BUT is used in a sentence whatever precedes it is always discounted and diminished by what follows it. For example: if you say “I’d love to do it, but I don’t have the time, money and the credentials” you have just killed the possibility of doing what you love.
In addition, a BUT used in a sentence becomes a show stopper. People rarely question its validity or implication on the actual sentence. When someone says “I wish we could create this new innovative program, but they’ll never allow it” most people will take that as a truth or fact, not question it and not go any further.
If you want to be more powerful, use BUT to your advantage:
Whenever a positive statement comes before the BUT – i.e., “I’d love to do it, but…” the sentence will disempower and discourage us. But, when the negative comes before the BUT – i.e., “I am really afraid, but…” our sentence will empower us and leave us with a wider range of possibilities.
In addition, if you switch the word BUT with AND, for example: “I’d love to do it, and I don’t have the time, money and the credentials” you have just disengaged the two parts of the sentence and the fact that you don’t have time, money and the credentials no longer needs to stop you from doing what you want.
The more you have awareness of how you use BUT and AND in your sentences, the more you will catch yourself saying things that you don’t intend, you don’t mean, and that are not true… and most importantly, are disempowering. As a result, you will be able to shape your sentence to reflect what you really want.