Argumentative? – substitute the word “but” for “and”

Share

 

Quick Summary – Are you Argumentative? Always use the conjunction “and” instead of the conjunction “but” to dramatically reduce defensiveness, to encourage harmonious conversation, and to increase your dialectic ability (which is basically open-mindedness).

I had a wonderful teacher in graduate school who would correct her students any time that they used the conjunction “but” in class. To some this was extremely annoying… to others (like myself) I found that this trick reduced my argumentative interactions to almost zero. There is almost no example that I can think of in which it would not be appropriate for you to switch the conjunctions. And the more you increase your dialectic ability (your ability to see that every issue has two sides – the old ‘there is two sides to every coin’ expression) the more evident it is that the word “but” creates a false dichotomy (black and white thinking – either/or thinking instead of both/and thinking) that is at the source of most arguments.

Example: a couple wakes up and has a day of errands… both are a bit cranky… it is 9:00 am in the morning. The wife says to the husband, “Honey I need to get to the bank before 12:00.” The husband responds, “But I need to get gas because the car is empty.”

An argument then begins… why? The word “but” made the interaction imply as if the statements were add odds with each other… to specify the word led them to believe that either the husband needed to get gas or the wife had to get to the bank by 12:00. The truth is that both statements were true and the only problem (the source of the entire argument) was the wording.

Substituting “but” for “and” example. The wife says to the husband, “Honey I need to get to the bank before 12:00.” The husband responds, “And I need to get gas because the car is empty.” the wife then respond, “ok.”

Feel how you respond to the examples below if you are not yet sold. For this exercise I want you to say the statements out loud or in your head and monitor how your body reacts.

These examples are all based on common dialogs.

“Honey I would love to go to the beach” response “But I am really hungry… I need to stop at a restaurant”

“Honey I would love to go to the beach” response “and I am really hungry… I need to stop at a restaurant”

“Let’s go take a swim” response “but I don’t want to get my watch wet”

“Let’s go take a swim” response “and I don’t want to get my watch wet”

“I would like to watch a movie sometime today” response “but I need to get some exercise”

“I would like to watch a movie sometime today” response “and I need to get some exercise”

And perhaps the most famous-

“I like the Democratic candidate for his views on the environment” response “but I think that the Republicans will help business owners.”

“I like the Democratic candidate for his views on the environment” response “and I think that the Republicans will help business owners.”

How does the “and” feel to you… can you see how the “but” makes statements seem mutually exclusive when they are not? Try it… I bet it will improve your relationships by reducing arguments.

5 thoughts on “Argumentative? – substitute the word “but” for “and”

  1. psychic quiz
    Took me time to study all of the comments, but I truly enjoyed the article. It proved to become Very useful to me and I’m certain to all of the commenters right here! It’s usually nice when you can not just be informed, but also entertained!

Leave a Reply