Lose your but!

Recently my 17 year-old daughter cleaned my house.   I know I should have had a hallelujah breakdown because  “seventeen year-old-daughter” and ”house cleaning” don’t often occur in the same sentence.  Instead, I managed to find fault.  When she was done, I said, “the house looks good.” She smiled; glad to have pleased me with her effort.  But then I added, “but you missed the edges of the floor in the bathroom,” and her smile faded into discouragement. 

Ouch.  I should have lost my “but.” 

Saying “but” negates everything that was said before it.  It cancels the positive and drives a wedge in the relationship.  At the very least, it discourages the other person.  Usually, it triggers resistance and sets up an adversarial relationship.

 Think about how you feel when you are complaining about poor customer service, for example, and the customer service person tries to defend himself by using “but.”

Customer at a car-rental agency:  I reserved a mini-van, not a compact car.

Customer service agent:  I can see the reservation, but we don’t have any left. 

Customer:   But, I called to make sure that I would have one!

Agent:   I’m sorry, but apparently one of our new employees didn’t see the notation in your records. . .

But, but, but.  “But” divides and encourages argument.  Use “and” to connect and encourage cooperation.  Wouldn’t you feel better and more likely to want to do business with THIS company?:

 Customer at a car-rental agency:  I reserved a mini-van, not a compact car.

Customer service agent:   I can see the reservation, and you are right.

Customer:   I called to make sure that I would have one!

Agent:   I’m sorry. That shouldn’t have happened. I have a couple of options for you . . .

Losing your “but” can be a good thing for your relationships and your business.

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About Diane Windingland
I speak for organizations that want their people to have better, more profitable conversations.

One Response to Lose your but!

  1. elisa says:

    catchy title! good info, but.. (haha) j/k

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