Get rid of the word ‘but’ from your vocabulary.  It’s what’s called a ‘negator.’  Psychologically, it negates, makes ineffective, invalid, and nullifies what came before it and significantly changing the emotional impact of the statement.

Effective and precise use of language is a crucial management, leadership, and sales skill.  You want to ensure you are communicating both the key facts AND the emotions your are targeting in the other person.  The use of the word ‘but’ often goes counter to our intended communication.

Here are some examples:

  • He’s a really nice guy BUT ….
    • You just KNOW something negative is coming.
    • The listener won’t even hear the “nice guy” part, and will focus almost exclusively on the negative.
  • You did a great job on that project BUT …..
    • Again, you just KNOW something negative is coming.

Replace the word ‘but’ with ‘however’, ‘and’, ‘yet’, ‘also’, ‘furthermore’, etc.

Or better yet … just be quiet after the positive part of your statement.  (Do you really intend to negate your previous phrase?)

When you first start trying to remove the word “but” from your vocabulary you will be AMAZED at how much the word is just “conditioned reflex”, with remarkably negative emotional and communication consequences.


  • “Honey, you look great tonight BUT … “
    • (REALLY???  What can you POSSIBLY say at that point to recover from THAT one !)
  • “Girls, you did great in that volleyball game BUT that one pass really got away from you.”
    • (Their brains will weigh about 90% to the later part of the statement just because the word “but” was used.)

If you are going to use the word ‘but’ then use it deliberately to negate the negative part of a statement.


  • “That was a really great movie BUT those kids talking in front of use were distracting.”
    • This is the WRONG use of the word.  It negates the great movie and shifts focus to the distraction.
  • “Those kids talking in front of us were distracting BUT that was a really great movie.”
    • GOOD use of the word “but”..  It creates focus on the great movie.

Remove the word ‘but’ from your daily language.  It negates everything that comes before it.  Usually with unintended negative consequences and emotional impact.