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Mr. Right But – A Tragic Love Story of a Man Who Loved “But”

By March 23, 2016 February 16th, 2019 No Comments
love letter with old style typewriter on wooden table, first line of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sonnet, How do I love thee?, all for the word but

Here’s a tragic love story (read with a little sarcasm and satirical intent). One for the record books.

During a client meeting, Jeremy* said the dreaded b-word, “but.” A few colleagues made light fun of him, specifically calling him out for using the word. I immediately thought to myself, “That’s a bit odd. The group collectively made fun of Jeremy for using but. I’ve never seen that in a group dynamic before.”

What I didn’t realize is, I made a confused look on my face while having this thought. Someone noticed, and said out loud, “Do you remember Jack*?” All nodded in unison.

It was explained to me, Jack started EVERY sentence with “right, but.” Let me repeat, “right, but” was uttered before anything else! All the time.

But is negative, counterproductive, and generally, everything after the word “but” is used, is what the person actually meant. See more about the b-word, Leave Your But Behind.

Jack was nicknamed, behind his back, “Mr. RightBut.” His negativity became a problem and eventually, Jack left the organization, not of his own doing.

MY 20-YEAR CRUSADE

Now, I know but is a difficult word to remove from our written and spoken language. It is a small crusade of mine to eliminate “but” from our language. I’ve been espousing my “no but” beliefs for over 20 years.

Imagine my surprise when I found in my daughter’s kindergarten books, the word but. I was incredulous!

I’m reminding her not to use this dreaded word all the time and battling the kindergarten teacher at home who told her it was a perfectly good word (note, I opted not to argue with the teacher. Have to pick your battles).

ELIMINATING BUT IS EASY AND HARD

At The Chief Storyteller®, I fine anyone who uses it $10,000. One person owes $70,000 to the No-More-Buts swear jar!  You won’t see but in our written materials. And no matter how hard I try, and I have been working on this for over 20 years, I will occassionally utter the word, much to my horror.

Personally, I have never met anyone like Jack, who loves the b-word as much as he does. I do know, too many people use it unknowingly and without realizing how it negatively impacts their personal and professional lives.

Similar words include on the other hand, however, and although, and with all due respect.

Watch how your relationships improve, both personally and professionally, by replacing “but” or its equivalent with a “.” (period) or “and.” Or even better, remove it from your vocabulary.

* Names changed

Photography Source:  Original from DepositPhotos // New Design, © Copyright 2016, The Chief Storyteller®, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Typewriter lines are from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43, How Do I Love Thee?

Ira Koretsky

About Ira Koretsky

Ira Koretsky has built The Chief Storyteller® into one of the most recognized names in 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 global speaker, trainer, consultant, and executive communication coach.