Eliminate the Big But for Career, Team Building and Business Success

One word can negate every single word spoken before it. 

One word can turn a productive coaching session into a demoralizing one way conversation. 

One word can turn a hot prospect ready to sign on the dotted line into a cold shoulder that will not return your calls.

That one little word with such a big impact is ‘but’.

Somewhere along the lines we were conditioned to register “but” as a negative.  When hearing that word, an instinctual response is to cringe and brace ourselves for the other shoe to drop. 

It represents negativity in various forms of no.  No, I do not want to help.  No, you did not do a good job.  No, we will not provide service.

Think about dating, “but” was an ego killer. “You are such a great person, but I just want to be friends.” 

Did you believe that they really thought you were that great?  No, all you heard was “you are now stuck in friend zone, never to exit.” 

Poor little but has a lot of negative connotations, it is a dreaded or even hated word.

This is why it can be so dangerous even when used innocently.

Instead, use but’s twin – however.

It has the same meaning, but a softer effect without all the negative emotional baggage.  It will allow you to persuade and engage your team members, staff and leadership by allowing them to hear your ideas and suggestions.

When the but is directed to you, take a breathe and realize that the bristling that you are feeling is a conditioned effect, not the intent of the speaker.  Replace it in your mind with however to be able to listen to the message.  It puts you at an advantage in being able to interpret the meaning, not message, and respond quickly in a positive way.


Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Brand Strategist & Career Coach

Certified Professional Resume Writer



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