What’s one of the fastest ways to derail a conversation? Using the word “but”.
Imagine yourself in such a conversation. You have an amazing idea that would get your team to its goal three times faster and you can’t wait to share it with your manager. You knock on his/her door and ask for a moment to share your idea. After listening to your idea he/she says: “Well, it’s a new idea BUT — end of listening. You are now waiting to hear all the reasons it won’t work before ever really examining the possibility. You leave discouraged, feeling like you weren’t listened to or heard, your motivation ebbs, your interest in coming up with new solutions wanes.
What’s the solution?
Substitute the word AND in place of BUT. So the above conversation might go like this: Well, it’s a new idea AND how about bringing it up at our next meeting. Let’s outline it together prior to the meeting. What do you think about that approach?
Or, separate the two thoughts altogether by using a period instead of a connector word: “Well, it’s a new idea. Let’s bring it up at our next meeting for discussion. In the meanwhile, let’s outline it together.
How do you feel after a response like that? More empowered, motivated, and encouraged? Whether or not your idea gets implemented isn’t the real issue. What’s important in moments like this is feeling that you’ve been listened to and given a chance to explore a new possibility.
The word but can stop ideas, momentum, team spirit – all the things necessary to engage employees and achieve a goal.
Start practicing today to change BUT to AND, or into two separate thoughts/sentences altogether. Practice in all of your conversations with friends, family, and at work and experience the difference in your conversations (and your relationships).