Communication: but versus and

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Communication: make no butts about it!

Communication is one of those funny things we all do but we all don’t do well. How often do we leave a conversation frustrated that the other person does not understand what we are saying or is not receiving well what we so desperately needed to express? We just want to argue with them about how they could possibly not see things they way we seem the now. Our fists tighten, our heart races, our face feels hot. We just want to force our information onto this person and make them feel exactly how we expected them to in our head as we were planning the conversation.

Communication is key to a relationship. We hear that all the time. I will go a step further and say effective communication is key to a relationship. We all need to communicate how we feel and what we think. We all need to relate to another. What we don’t always consider is that communication is the key to a lot of things. It all depends what we are communicating.

We communicate without even realizing it. The words we use, our tone of voice, our facial expression, how we are holding our arms, how we are standing, whether or not we use eye contact… The variables are endless and it can get overwhelming to think of all of these things simultaneous as we attempt to communicate something important to us.

When trying to talk to someone, it is important to keep it simple. Put yourself in their shoes. Receiving information can be tough- be sensitive to this. Realize that your own defensiveness will breed more defensiveness in the other person. Almost all of us have heard probably heard by now that “you” statements feel accusatory and put people on the defensive; however, “I” statements bring the focus back on you and your personal experience. “I” statements allow you to express yourself without placing blame and it leaves the conversation open to other perspectives. “You don’t clean up your mess” gives us a much different feel then “I feel overwhelmed when this is not done.”

One word that we don’t speak of as much is the word “but.” The word “but” is what I call the communication eraser. I can express myself to someone and feel as though I am really making progress only to trip up and use the word “but.” Why is this word so bad? “But” slices through our personal expression. We can begin to say so much… “I ran 2 miles the other day, swam 40 laps, ate 5 servings of vegetables, drank 8 glasses of water but…” Instantly what do we feel? That “but” just negated the whole sentence and we didn’t even hear what was said after it. 

Giving up the word “but” may be hard for us. It’s in our everyday language. Its use is commonplace. We need a word to replace our “but” to realistically stop using the word. Instead of using “but,” we can use “and.” “And” is another interesting simple word. “And” bridges our thoughts together and allows us to express difficult things when we pair them with easier things. “You look great in that dress BUT you looked better in the other one” becomes “You look great in that dress and you looked better in the other one.” “I love you BUT we need to work on delegating chores” becomes “I love you and we need to work on delegating chores.”

So get your butt out of trouble with “but” and start using “and.”

How You Say Something Matters So Much

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