I love you…BUT…like a brother (ouch).

I think your idea is great…BUT…we don’t have the budget (insert eye roll).

Sir Mix-A-Lot may like a big BUT, your team on the other hand does not.

Leaders need to think about their but.

In Magic Words, Tim David calls it the ‘But Effect’ and it has two halves.

“For the listener, everything said before the word “but” is erased, and everything after the word “but” is enhanced. Especially if what follows the “but” is the exact opposite of what preceded the “but.”

It’s a small word that makes a big difference. It’s one of those minors that can quickly become a major. And it influences the words around it.

The But Eraser causes everything that is said beforehand to become a minor.
The But Enhancer causes everything that is said afterwards to become a major.

So what do we do? David suggests a couple of great options:

1. Change the sequence and shift the emphasis.
Instead of “I think your idea is great BUT we don’t have the budget.
Try “We don’t have the budget for this BUT I think your idea is great.

2. Replace BUT with AND to link the ideas.
E.g “I think your idea is great AND I’d like to explore some questions I have around the budget.

A question to reflect on:

“Where am I using a BUT that could be an AND?”

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