It’s not what you think.  This article is not about your lower anatomical area.  It’s about the area between your ears.

Ever thought much about the words that come out of your mouth?  Of course you have, especially when you’re getting ready to have a difficult conversation or you’re practicing a presentation.  You carefully choose your words.

But what about everyday conversations?  Many times we are less careful about the words we use and as a result, we inadvertently send the wrong message.

One word can change the way people hear what you’re trying to say.  Saying this one word can derail the conversation from a positive dialogue to a potential confrontation.

It’s about your big “BUT.”BUT sign

If you’ve ever had a big “but” stuck in your face, you know what I mean.  It’s a STOP sign that immediately changes the course of a conversation.  “But” brings out the defensive opposition.

I recently listened to a conversation between a group discussing a project.  Ideas were flowing back and forth.  Then someone said, “That’s an interesting idea, BUT….”

I watched the conversation go from free flowing to pregnant pauses.  Even the body language was visibly different.

The big “BUT” had made an appearance. 

“BUT” is a showstopper, a conversation-killer.  A party-pooper (sorry, couldn’t resist the but-pun).  It makes you sound negative.

But (yes I said it), imagine if the conversation had gone like this:

“That’s an interesting idea, AND….”

Or simply, “AND here’s another way to look at that issue…”

The word “and” is inclusive.  It’s a positive word that keeps the flow going.  Even though you may be introducing a different thought, you’re respecting the conversation and inviting it to continue.   If you want to build your communication skills and relationships with others, learn to insert the word “and” instead of “but” into your sentences and see what happens.

And in your own head, the BUT word holds you back.  It’s an excuse to not allow yourself to think bigger or better.  For example, maybe you’ve thought, “I’d really like to change jobs, but….”  “But” lets you limit yourself.  What if you were to say, “I’d really like to change jobs, AND the way I could make that happen is by…..”

Of course there are a few times when the big but is appropriate.  If you’re giving a presentation and deliberately want to re-direct audience attention, then “but” is alright.  (Think of infomercials with the famous shouting line, “But wait–there’s more!” I even used the “but” word earlier in this article to introduce a change of thought.  However, remember that presentations are different from conversations.)

I challenge you to count how many times your BUT shows up in a day.   Watch how people react when you say the word.  Or better yet, check your own reaction when someone puts their BUT in your face.  Or ask how you’re limiting yourself when you say “BUT.” Changing your BUT for the better is a subtle shift, one that will have huge impact when framing your thoughts and words, and will leave a much more positive impression when conversing with others.

Welcome to the Life Café!  As a Hawaii-based Success Coach, Trainer, and Motivational Speaker, I created this column as a place for people to gather, enjoy a cup of virtual coffee and get information and motivation to up-level their lives.  Join our conversations at “The Life Cafe” on Facebook or get more info on my website at www.KathyDavenportImageDesign.com.  Look forward to connecting with you!

©2016 Kathy Davenport Image Design. All rights reserved.  This article may be used with permission from the author.

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Kathy Davenport is a Hawaii-based coach specializing in mid-life makeovers and mentoring. Kathy's signature work helps people discover who they are, what they are meant to do, and how to live the second half of their life differently. She believes that when life hands you changes, you write a new chapter...and she'll help you edit the outcome. For more information, visit her website at www.kathydavenportimagedesign.com.