Your Daily Language Challenge: No “Buts” and No “Yous”

christina-wocintechchat-com-LQ1t-8Ms5PY-unsplashA language challenge for the day: Every time you find yourself about to say, “blah blah blah BUT…,” stop and replace “but” with “and.” I’d also challenge you to not to have the word “you” in the sentence either (for example, “…blah blah blah, YOU should have;” “…blah blah blah, YOU need to;” or my favorite, “blah blah blah, if I were YOU.



It started from some apologies I had received or seen lately. “I am sorry that I am late but <lame excuse or worse explanation of why you’re really not sorry>.” Use of the ‘but’ clause essentially makes everything stated before the ‘but’ untrue.

Building someone up by delivering a compliment, or apologizing then following it up with the ‘but’ clause is a bit demoralizing. There’s no need to say “Great job on the proposal BUT it needs another read” or even better yet, “…BUT you need to check it for mistakes.” You’ve essentially contradicted your previously stated compliment.

Why not say, “Great job on the proposal and I found a couple of typos as highlighted.” Yes, it’s subtle and I think that’s important.

When using the word ‘you,’ try replacing it with ‘I’ or ‘we.’ Saying “you should” or “you need to” can sound very bossy and demeaning. Additionally, when you get into “you said” then there’s increased potential for a very a childlike disagreement to ensue.

Try it on email first

I tried to eliminate both ‘but’ and ‘you’ while speaking and found myself having a hard time stringing together sentences, particularly with the ‘but’ clause. Clearly I need to work on my delivery of feedback. Instead, I have been trying to practice eliminate these words in my emails. I dump out my thoughts or feedback in a response and then look for the ‘but’ clauses. Sadly there are still many, It gives me the chance to go back, and reflect about reframing my comments.

The ‘you’ challenge is harder. That is why I am writing this blog. Maybe if I tell everyone what I am trying to accomplish, it might catch on.

I find if people around me say a certain word repeatedly, I start doing the same. Recently it’s ‘literally’; it’s literally everywhere and I find myself dropping it into conversation and email. Thus, my new quest to remove ‘but’ and ‘you’ is on…and perhaps ‘literally.’ 🙂

Try it; it might work!

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