Next time you go into a conversation with someone with the intention of coming out with an agreement think about your ‘buts’ and ‘ands’.
When ever someone is presenting an argument or fighting their case they will ultimately use the word ‘but’ to signify something that they disagree with or are not happy with and it’s something we have learnt to expect over the years. As soon as I say ‘but’ to my son he switches of automatically or gets frustrated because he’s expecting a rejection or a negative response.
Just as the word ‘and’ suggests that there is something else to expect doesn’t it and you would be right wouldn’t you? So choose your words wisely whenever you are seeking an agreement from another party. If you wish to negate the other person’s argument avoid the ‘but’!
Consider the two statements below.
‘I feel very strongly about this issue and I appreciate how you feel too and that is why it’s important to get this right’
‘I feel very strongly about this issue but I don’t think that you do so how are we going to come to any agreement?’
Which statement is letting the other person know you ‘hear’ them and want to work towards a compromise? Which one is more likely to open up the other person to your ideas too?
Likewise consider how each of the statements below would impact on the receiver.
‘I know I ask you to work late some nights but that’s why you got the job in the first place and why you’re still here’
‘I know I ask you to work late and I really appreciate all your efforts but without your valuable contribution we may fail to hit our target’
At the first but (in the first statement) the person is waiting for the negative and they get it so it really doesn’t matter what you say after that as the person has already got the ‘but’ and switched off!
However in the second statement the ‘but’ is qualified by a positive statement (your valuable contribution) and as a result is a more persuasive argument.
The ‘and’ works in the second statement too as it suggests something other than the expected ‘but’ and it allows us to add in a supporting and positive (persuasive) statement too before ending on the ‘but’, which takes the persuasion up another notch.
So yes you can use the ‘but’ but ensure you follow it up with a positive and persuasive argument and use the ‘and’ to negate their argument in a more positive and inclusive way.