Something as simple as replying with “And” instead of “But” can be transformational in our communications.
A simple example: Option 1: That is a beautiful painting, but have you seen this one?
Option 2: That is a beautiful painting, and have you seen this one? Try that 20 times per day as a leader and watch what happens.
Our and is more powerful than our but.
It is quite true that And implies understanding and acceptance. But implies a challenge, or at least a push-back to the premise.
And implies, “I understand and add to it.” But says, “I disagree and suggest otherwise.”
As good communicators, we need to hold a true and powerful “But card” in our communication hand. Play it, and play it true. What I am suggesting in this communique is that we have become habitually lazy at deploying “but” when “and “ is more appropriate. We all need to know how to use the but card. When we disagree vehemently, then we should transparently do so. Being incongruent is fine.
“And” is to say, “Yes, and have you also considered this?”
“But” is to say, “No, you should have considered this.”
This has been helpful in my personal life and in my business life. It is a very positive, almost subliminal, enhancement in conversations to use and when continuing dialogue with another person. When it is sensible, try it. See how much smoother conversations go when we pivot from what someone says to us, and we start our reply with and instead of but.
As the chief executive or senior executive of a great culture, we need to lead collaboration. By using a positive power response like “And” we enable, engage, and steer our teams. Use “But” as needed, and do not be afraid to use it when you mean it.
I have noticed that many couples, parents, and business people unwittingly start responses to dialogue with “But.” It is a habit. Change that habit. Go forward with “And,” and see what happens.