Congratulations on making the time to read a Timely Tip that may help you sell or serve better but I don’t know how useful it will be to you.
Does that statement make you to want to read further? Probably not. Using the “but” in the sentence clouds the intent and negates the heart-felt phrase about how great it is that you are looking for ways to become even more effective.
Problem is…we send those confusing messages too often. Listen to how often you hear yourself and others make statements like these:
- I wish my performance was more consistent but I have so many distractions with my family.
- I appreciate you finding that answer but you could have more easily found it by asking someone else on the team.
- Thank you sharing your feedback but that’s our policy.
- I’m sorry you don‘t like the answer but that is all I can do.
- I am so sorry I missed your birthday but I was just so busy.
The “but” in a sentence can cause confusion, negate, or contradict the first part of the message. It sets the stage for “Now I’ll tell you why that or you are wrong.”
What’s interesting is that it’s most likely a habit, “but” is simply inserted as a “connector” between two statements. But who has time to figure out which part of the statement is the “real” message? Most people will focus on and remember the latter part.
The big question then…What to use instead? Two options: use “and” or a pause. Restating the examples above:
- I wish my performance was more consistent. (pause) My family can be distracting AND I will need to find a better way to focus when I’m at work.
- I appreciate you finding that answer AND there may be some ways to get it more quickly in the future. Let’s look at how.
- Thank you for sharing your feedback. (pause) We are always learning from our customers and I will pass it along to my manager.
- I’m sorry you do not like the answer AND I have done what I can. An option for you is to …
- I am so sorry I missed your birthday. (pause) I have been so busy and lost track of the days. This doesn’t mean you’re not important.
The use of “but” as a connector is a bad habit. And yes, habits are hard to break. “Skipping the buts” will take some effort and the clarity of your message will be worth it.
Thank you for taking the time to read this Timely Tip AND I hope you will use the information to send clear messages.
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