I woke up this morning thinking about a communication technique that I learned a while back: replace the word “but” with the word “and”.

This tiny change can shift a conversation from adversarial to advocacy.

That’s a great idea, and how do we make it happen?

I see your point, and I will add this thought…

We should try that plan, and we can put these steps in place to improve the chances that it will work the way we want it to.

I wish I could say that I’ve consistently adopted this technique. Unfortunately, it is hard to break the “but” habit. I’ve found, however, that when I do make the effort to use “and” in place of “but,” I spend less time defending and more time achieving.

Of course, switching from “but” to “and” isn’t always the right choice. “And” implies agreement, acceptance. Two or more possibilities, each being an option. Sometimes, there isn’t – there can’t be – an either/or. Sometimes, you have to take a stand.

But (and yes, I chose to use “but” in this case), in situations where “and” might work, it’s worth a try. Who knows where it might lead?

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