butting heads

03/11/2010

by anne lueneburger

Consider two sentences:

(1) I received your request to participate in the meeting but, having conferred with my colleagues, concluded that it would be more productive to de-brief with you separately.

(2) I received your request to participate in the meeting and, having conferred with my colleagues, concluded that it would be more productive to de-brief with you separately.

From a ‘logic’ perspective, there is no difference between “and” and “but” – both sentences make sense – the words are simply connectives between the separate statements.  BUT, one of them suggests conflict while the other does not…

This observation was at the core of a coaching session that I recently led with Nicolas, who is not only the CMO of a multinational apparel company, but also an intuitive sophist.

Tellingly, when we realized that Nicolas loved to use the conjunction “but” to demonstrate his mastery of pros and cons, even when doing so is not conducive to his business objective, his initial reaction was prefaced by the words “Yes, but … .” We shared a laugh when I pointed out to Nicolas that “Yes, but …” typically means “No, because …!”

Two simple three-letter words – and what a difference they can make to how you your statements come across…

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One Response to “butting heads”

  1. Yang Habben Says:

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