Gary Bertwhistle tells the story of the "yeah but" guy and encourages all of us to be "yeah and" guys instead. It's good advice. Years ago, I heard about the improv "yes and" rule. I discovered that, in both business and personal life, if you take a sentence with a but, and replace the but with and, the sentence becomes a much more positive and pleasant one. Your decision, your ruling, hasn't changed. The way you present it has. Sometimes instead of "and", I split the sentence at "but" into two sentences. Compare these:
- (To your child, about some iffy party or event they want to attend) I love you, but I'm not letting you go to that. I love you, and I'm not letting you go to that.
- I've thought about it a lot, but it's not going to happen. I've thought about it a lot, and it's not going to happen.
- It's a good idea, but I can't approve it. It's a good idea. I can't approve it.
- I know you really want to, but you can't. I know you really want to, and you can't.
Is it because people hear "but", know you're saying no, and stop listening? Is it because "but" somehow negates the "good" half of the sentence? I don't know. I do know I have less arguing in my life since I adopted this verbal habit.