I’m starting a new campaign called ‘Ban the But’. Note, not ban the butt with 2 ts before you start thinking I’ve gone weird. 

This is the BUT that often is interpreted as: ‘I’m about to disagree with you’ ‘You’re wrong’ ‘You’ve missed a key thing’ ‘You’re an idiot, you haven’t thought about X’ ‘I’m putting on my pessimistic hat and showing you your dreams are foolish’ etc etc. Now these interpretations may seem a little harsh but often that is the actual impact of that little 3 letter word on the receiver, regardless of what you meant. Whether that’s a partner, team member, child or anyone else. 

I suppose it could sometimes be positive if used as ‘I have to go on this work trip BUT I love you and I’m going to miss you’. Then it’s ok and I’m going to let those stand BUT (see what I did there?!) mostly it’s a negative word. And we do it all the time.

What can we use instead? How about AND – a word that builds instead of dismisses. And (I’m doing it again), while we’re and-ing (inventing new words now), we can add in an acknowledgement of what was valuable or great about what the other person said. In other words we find them right before building more in the direction we’d like the conversation to go. For example: Child says ‘Can we have fish fingers for tea?’. Mum says ‘BUT you ate them yesterday and there’s none left’. Replaced by Mum saying ‘That’s a brilliant idea [finding right hence getting child on side and feeling positive] AND I’ve run out at the moment and will buy some next time I’m shopping’. The second will have a far more positive impact on their relationship and what is effectively a ‘no’ will land a lot easier with the child.

Whether it’s your partner, child, workmate or anyone else it really helps to start with what’s right in what they said, or acknowledge it in some way, and then build on it with a lovely AND. Pls like / share.

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