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Leave Your “But” Behind – Strengthen Your Communication

By January 16, 2006June 23rd, 2019No Comments
three dalmation puppies, two looking forward, middle one looking backward, overlay text of leave your but behind

Strengthen your communication and eliminate the Big – Bad – “But.”

You know how much I dislike the word “but.” I’ve gotten into arguments with professors and lexicologists alike, who tell me it is a perfectly good and valid word.

It is one of the worst words in the English language. Period. Why? Because it negates everything said previously, whether intentional or unintentional.


Yes but, right but, and just plain ‘ol but permeate conversations. While at networking functions and social gatherings, I’ve informally counted the utterances. They rival any commonplace word like “and,” “I,” and “a.”

But has become such an accepted word most people have absolutely no idea how many times they use it. And consequently, and all too frequently, have no idea how harmful it is to maintaining positive personal and workplace relationships. Eliminate the Big – Bad – But.

Our “Yes And” and “Poke Your ‘I’ Out” Smart Exercises TM make people acutely aware of the use of these negative words. Yes And is a concept from improvisational humor where you accept every suggestion made to you. It makes you a better listener, a better communicator, a better colleague, and a better leader (and a better friend). When we do our exercises, it takes a lot of practice for participants to embrace Yes And, leaving their but’s behind (pun intended).


Here’s a challenge…

Try this for one day at first. Before pressing <enter> on your emails, replace every instance of “but,” “however,” “although,” and “on the other hand” with a period or “and.” I’ll bet you a million Monopoly® dollars this suggestion will  NOT  change your meaning or intent. In fact, this suggestion will strengthen your message.

After doing this for a day or two, implement slowly this process into your spoken words. Become more self-aware of when and why you use that dreadful word. Same process, replace with a period or and.

Read my other post to get an idea of the negative consequences of using But too much: Mr. Right But – A Tragic Love Story of a Man Who Loved “But”

Typically, it takes one to two months to see and feel the difference. Watch how people treat you–differently and better…


Photography Source:  DepositPhotos

Ira Koretsky

Ira Koretsky has built The Chief Storyteller® into one of the most recognized names in communication, especially business storytelling. He has delivered over 500 keynote presentations and workshops in nearly a dozen countries, in more than one hundred cities, across 30 plus industries. His specialties are simplifying the complex and communicating when the stakes are high. He is also an adjunct professor in public speaking and storytelling at the University of Maryland's Business School. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after storytelling coach, global speaker, trainer, consultant, communication coach, and public speaking coach.