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  • Nancy Casey

Life Hack: If You Want To Be Heard, Replace "But" With "And".

I learned a trick in a communication training that changed my clinical practice (and my personal life) for the better.


As a nurse practitioner, a mother and a wife I am often confronted with a person in front of me choosing to do something other than what I had hoped. I often want someone to work on their sleep habits, increase their exercise, limit their screen time or just plain see my side of an issue (here's looking at you, kids and husband).


Have you ever given someone feedback along the lines of..."I know you worked really hard on this project but I'm gonna need you to...."? I don't know about you but oftentimes the minute I use the word "but" it feels like it just pours lighter fluid on the situation. It tends to increase the tension I was hoping to avoid.

To get someone to hear your point try switching out the word "but" with the word "and."


When you use the word "but" you are essentially telling the other person to ignore everything you just said and listen to what you are about to say. The words that come before the word "but" are usually our praise or empathy words. In essence, you are telling your listener to ignore your praise and listen to your critique. Nobody likes that.


When you use the word "and" it lets your listener know that you acknowledge and hear their point of view and that you have another way of looking at things. You are acknowledging that you both have points of view on this particular issue. You are much more likely to be heard and it will diffuse the tension. Of course, it will work better if you are genuine- if you are just paying lip service to someone else's point they will likely be able to read through that and, well, that's a topic for another day.


This is a simple and effective technique. Which is not to say that it's easy. Try it out a few times and see how it goes. I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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