Your “but” is hurting me

Photo by Giulia May on Unsplash

Two hacks to prevent your “but” from squashing everyone else’s feelings

Words matter. So does the order of those words.

Have you ever heard someone say a good thing… and then you start feeling like there’s a “but” incoming. When it finally arrives the “but” destroys whatever good came before it. It makes the good part feel fake, a waste of time, an euphemism for what was coming.

The order influences recipient’s mood

Instead “GOOD but BAD”

“Thanks for your gift, but I can’t accept it.”

use “BAD but GOOD”

“I can’t accept it, but thanks for your gift!”

The message is the same. Yet the vibe felt by the recipient is different. In the former example, the recipient feels rejected, in the latter they feel appreciated.

Consider replacing a “but” with a dot

“But” is a trigger word. People are trained to focus on what comes after the “but”. If you don’t say it, people won’t be on alert.

Instead of “GOOD but BAD”

Your design is great but we need to work on the typography.

use “Good. I think BAD”

“Your design is great. I think we need to work on the typography.

Imagine someone told you that. Which one would you prefer to hear?