By Guy Harris

This is a simple, straightforward communication technique that you can use to improve your ability to connect and communicate with others, even if you only speak to them over the phone or via email: Use “and” more than “but.”

Imagine that you and I are in a conversation and that you have just shared your opinion with me. Compare these two responses that I might make:

  1. “You know, that’s a good point, but …”
  2. “You know, that’s a good point, and …”

With the first reply, it almost doesn’t matter what I say. I have probably already triggered a natural defensive mechanism in you, and you will tune me out from that point on. Even if what I say is positive, you will only hear that I disapprove of your idea or viewpoint.

The second reply creates a positive lead-in to the second part of the statement. Even if I offer a slightly different interpretation of the facts, I avoid triggering your defensiveness early in the process, and you will receive what I have to say with an open attitude. That moves the conversation in a positive direction.

One little word substitution can yield huge benefits in communication effectiveness. So, remember to use “and” more than “but.”

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