“BUT” = “Behold the Underlining Truth”


Do you want to get along better with others?  What is one of the most effective tips?  It’s Reduce Your But.”

  • Let’s imagine I say to my husband, “You’re a really great husband, but….”
  • Or someone says, “I really like your project, but……”
  • Or a friend says, “That’s a great outfit, but…..”

What happens when you hear that “but”?  Yes!  We know this.  It’s “Get Ready for the SMACKDOWN!”

You know you are Not going to want to hear what comes after the “but”.  It’s going to be how you are wrong, stupid, or just generally not good enough.  No wonder we cringe when we hear that word.

And when we are the one saying a “but”, it tells the other person “I don’t like this about you!”.  Why is this so bad?  Well, when they hear that “but”,  their walls to go up and they get ready to “defend or attack back”.  That never leads to a good outcome!

The worst part of “butting” is that it’s almost a given that I am being judgmental instead of descriptive – it’s a “push”, and if I push on people, they’ll push back, either openly or behind my back.

One of my many fantastic students, Darik Gardner, shared how his mother, Kelly, defines using a “but”.  It’s the negative: “Behold the Underlining Truth”.  That “but” tells the person my underlying message is “You’re not okay, and let me prove to you how that’s true!” OUCH!

We do have better choices.  Thank Goodness!  In my book, Better Relationships, Happier Lives, I talk about how powerful it is to shift from “but” to “and”, and become descriptive.

What do I mean?   Well, instead of saying, “I really like your project, but….”, I could say instead, “I think graphs that document the increases would make your project even more powerful.  And that’s the only thing I can think of.  You’ve done an outstanding job on this.  Well Done!”

Or, in talking to your spouse, you drop the “You’re a really great husband” and save it for a conversation on how awesome he is.  Get specific about what you want him to do. Rather than saying, “You’re a really great husband, but I’m the one cleaning the kitchen every night.”, I could say instead:  “Honey, would you mind getting the dishes in the dishwasher and wiping the counters?  I want to get this project done before bedtime. Thanks!”

Remember this:

Why not lift up each other by telling them what we like about them?  AND, we are Much more likely to get what we need or want if we descriptively ask for what we want.

Go have some fun reducing your “but”!


One comment

  1. Marcia says:

    …AND you have given us another great seed to grow Terry. Thank you!
    P. S. your book is full of great practical and kindhearted wisdomS, everyone needs a copy on hand!

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