BUT. Such a short word. It's hard to imagine the impact that word can have, isn't it?

Imagine if your boss said to you, "You did a good job on this report BUT it lacked the correct formatting so it wasn't clear enough." Do you have a positive sense of accomplishment? Or rather the feeling of being "not good enough"?

Now imagine if I asked you, "How did you do in the 10k last weekend?" I've heard answers like, "Well, it was okay, BUT I didn't run a good time."

How would that answer make you feel?

A sentence can start very positively. Until the "BUT" comes. As soon as we hear this word, our brain automatically focuses mainly on the critical aspect of the message.

What's happening psychologically now is that most of us, some more than others, of course, tend to be sensitive to criticism, whether it's because of childhood experiences, self-esteem, or several other very individual reasons. And depending on how we perceive negative criticism, it can lead to frustration, interpretation as a personal attack, or other unproductive forms of coping, such as being defensive, lowered self-esteem, or even demoralization.

When we hear "BUT" in a sentence, our brain automatically jumps into "negative criticism" mode, tending to ignore the positive and only noting the pejorative in the message that follows the BUT, even if that message contains a primarily positive element (or a tendency towards "modesty"). “It was great BUT it actually sucked.” Bam! Ouch!

BUT what if I told you that there is an even shorter word? A word that has a much greater positive effect on your mind and is a real motivator when used correctly: the "A" word. (Of course not THAT! :) )

Imagine your boss coming up to you and saying, “You did a great job on this report. AND I'm sure it will become even clearer if we find another formatting."

And how does the following answer to the weekend running question feel for you: "It was already pretty good, AND if I can train more efficiently, I can get an even better result next time."?

Don't you agree that this completely changes the tonality? You don't change the message by doing this, as it is still points out that there is room for improvement. However, you create a more respectful, appreciative, and empowering way to convey that message. For yourself and for others.

And as a reward for this effort, you will get a better result. Because what happens is that you replace an uncomfortable feeling of negative "devaluation" with a much more productive and motivating feeling: the "I can" feeling.

So the next time you want to form a sentence with "BUT," try to be aware that with something as simple as scraping off two more letters to form the word "A," you have the power to change communication dynamics and mental processes for the better. AND believe me, it's worth trying.

So if you ask me:: BUT vs. AND - a clear case. 🙂