Becoming Our Best


During my studies in Counseling, a favorite professor told us, "When you place a 'but' in the middle of a sentence, it tends to negate whatever you said before it." That statement stopped me in my tracks, as I am one of those people who use "but" many times throughout the day. Still, the professor was right; as I examined my speech patterns and the way this simple word was used, I really was sending some confusing messages. The statement I said before "but" meant one thing and the statement after meant another. The end result was unclarity.

For example I might say, "Joe, you have become consistently late in arriving for work. I want you to be here on time every day, but if you are having difficulties at home, it's OK to be a little late." Instead of knowing he must be on time each day, Joe probably remembered only the last part of my warning and knows it's OK to be late if he can develop a good excuse. It would be better for me to just say, "Joe.I want you to be here on time every day."

What can a person do to be more clear in these kinds of cases?

• Become aware of when and how you use "but" in your conversation

• Consider minimizing the use of "but"

• Substitute "and" for "but" when possible

• Ask your team members to help raise your awareness of speech patterns which may not be helpful, then work on getting better

It is important to be clear not only in what we want to say, but in what the other person understands. Using "but" properly will save you time, headaches and frustration. And your team members will be grateful for the effort you devote to giving them the best information possible.

Author: Bruce Johnsen Management Consultant:
824 Munras Ave Suite G
Monterey, CA 93940

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