Leadership on a Napkin
Don’t let your BUT kick your BUTT
The word BUT is a sneaky word.
“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.”but they’ll never allow it.”
“We don’t have all the answers, but I think we should take a stand.”
We use this word in conversations all the time without realizing how impactful it is.
Why is BUT such an impactful word?
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, when a BUT is used in a sentence it 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.
So how can we use BUT to our advantage?
Whenever a positive statement comes before the BUT – for example:
“I’d love to do it, but…” – the sentence will surely dis-empower and discourage us.
But, when the negative comes before the BUT – for example:
“I am really afraid, but…” – our sentence will always empower us and leave us with a wide 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 awareness you have of how you use BUT and AND in your sentences, the more you will catch yourself saying things that you don’t intend, that you don’t mean, that are not true… and most importantly, that are dis-empowering.
As a result, you will be able to shape your sentence to reflect what you really want.