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No Butts

Updated: Jul 4, 2021

Remove the word "but" from your vocabulary, but not always. Find out why...


Many years ago, I met with a group of friends who were interested in self-development.


I was trying to convince them to remove the words “but” and “should” from their vocabulary. Here’s the logic:


But


Consider the following scenario: little Johnny rushes up to his mother after the race and proudly showing his medal says,



“Look mum! I got second!”


His mother replies, “Well done Johnny, but I’m sure if you had tried harder you could have come first.”




How does Johnny feel? Do you think he feels a bit deflated? He sure does.


This simple example shows how the word “but” essentially deletes the words that came before it or to put it another way it takes away any benefit that the words coming before it might have had.


How about: “I love you, but sometimes you drive me crazy.”?


I love you, but sometimes you drive me crazy.”


~ // ~


Should


Let’s start with an example here too: “You should eat less sugary food.”


Often the use of “should” creates a superior / inferior relationship between the parties of the conversation. It can make the listener feel like they’re being treated like an uninformed person which can make them feel uncomfortable.




It can also have the tendency to remind people of their parents constantly telling them what to do. And we all know how we loved our parents telling us how to live our lives! Thus, for some, a habit has been created whereby they shut out whatever comes after “You should..”.



Here are some more effective alternatives to this phrase that you can try:

- Have you thought of …?

- What about …?

- What do you think about …?


~ // ~


That was a while back. Since then I’ve discovered that “but” can have a powerfully positive effect.


Consider a sentence similar to the one above but reversed:


“I didn’t complete the full programme today, but at least I did some exercise!”



It still has the cancelling effect but, in this case, it leaves us with a positive result.


Try them all for yourself – see if they work.



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