Often when speaking we don’t realise how the simplest word choice can have a major impact on our listener’s response and sometimes it’s contrary to the outcome we want. The word ‘but’ is a great example of this. According to the dictionary the word ‘but’ is ‘used to introduce a phrase or clause contrasting what has already been mentioned’. So if I said to you, “I like this design but I think it needs to have more red,” what you will hear is ‘she doesn't like this design and wants it to be changed.’ We have become so conditioned to the use of the word ‘but’ in this way that as soon as we even hear a compliment that sounds hesitant we automatically insert the ‘but’ that we know is coming next and discount what the person has just said. “Yeah the new colour is nice…. (but!).”
In order to ensure your statements are taken on board as you intended and that added information doesn’t contradict your initial statement, replace ‘and’ with ‘but’. Let’s do a quick before and after so you can notice the impact of the difference in your own reaction.
“I like this design but I think it needs to have more red.”
“I like this design and I think it needs to have more red.”
To keep people open to the rest of your message and to avoid sending them into a skeptical defense mode, replace the ‘but’ with an ‘and’ and see how much smoother your conversations go. You’ll experience less resistance, more acceptance and a clearer connection between your intended message and the listener’s interpretation of your message.
As a professional People Whisperer, Anneli has been working with leaders and teams to improve their communication and interpersonal intelligence for almost a decade.
If you’d like to improve your interpersonal effectiveness and influence, or decode the behaviours’ of others, contact Anneli today.
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