The Almighty “but” – Are You Hooked?

The almighty “but” – are you hooked?

If you’re like most people, you don’t even notice how much you use “but”.  I didn’t.  Then one day something I was writing felt like a “but” to me because “but” felt like “whining”.

“Buts” are traps or whines. Woe is me!  Or Bad is you!  Either way, whether it’s directed at yourself or someone else a “but” is non-productive.

Either it’s true or it isn’t. For instance, if a  manager says to an employee, “You did a good job but . . . .” How does that feel to you?  Doesn’t it feel like a big hammer is about to come down and don’t you think  it’s trickery even though it’s not happening to you?  I did.  Pure manipulation of the worst kind – make them feel good for a minute and slam them when their guard has been compromised.  The employee either did a good job or not – if there’s a but in there then using “good job” as a preface was a lie.

Then, there’s, “I would have but . . . “. Can’t you feel the excuse coming on?

We’ve all done it at one time or another.  How did you feel when you used it?  I felt unstable – off kilter – once the “but” comes out of my mouth, then I was into defensive mode.  When I simply say, “Yes, I didn’t do that”, I felt  strength – a place where I admit the truth and move on – it’s over.  If I get yelled at, well, that’s the consequence.  If I use “but”, I’ll possibly get yelled at anyway.  With the strength created by admitting my error, that is, taking responsibility for the events which did or did not take place,  I can respond more appropriately then if I’m in a defensive posture.

“But” is a difficult habit to break – we are surrounded by “buts”!

I prefer an approach in which when we have something to say someone, we just say it – bravely and limit ourselves to one thing.  If it is something nice, say it and let the person enjoy the compliment. If it’s something which may not be received so pleasantly, we can use tact which requires no “set up”  – we all know that a “set up” is cowardly.  We gain more self-respect and respect from others  for bravery when we speak honestly.

How to stop “buting”? Well, I found an article that was a lot of fun to read at and a fun way to stop using but.

Become aware and make it hurt when you catch yourself – pinch your butt – you heard right – pinch your butt every time you catch yourself “buting” – make it sting a little!  If other people want to join in the game, then agree to pinch each others’ butts when the “but” appears in the language – soon, there won’t be much butt pinching going on!

What are you thoughts about “but”?

Lorraine Arams
Don’t “but” your goals – achieve them!
Complimentary system at:

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