Using “And” Instead of “But”

Some of the most popular actors in movies of the last decade have come out of the “Improv” world simply by saying “Yes, and…” to their fellow actor in scenes that are improvised. This makes the scene crackle with possibility because everyone’s in the same creative flow, living in the moment.

Doesn’t that sound like fun? Don’t we also respond well when the other person we’re talking to not only acknowledges our point, and builds on it?

Put “but” into the mix, however, and it’s like a record scratch. All of a sudden a previously smooth road has a jarring speed bump in it. Insert even more buts and a potentially joyful interaction can turn into a jolting, unpleasant experience, and we’re not even sure why.

Making the shift from “but” to “and” for myself has been hugely transformative, as it has for my clients as well. One in particular started using this technique recently and was able to create possibilities in her life that weren’t available before, so I thought I’d share a little more about it with you.

Consider this: A group of people are sitting in a circle around a particularly interesting sculpture in the center. Each gazes upon it and develops their unique take on it. Each has their own uniquely distinctive perspective. Some see it straight on, some from the opposite end. Some similar, some very different. Yet, all shared as they sit in this circle together.

I think the world is like this. We all have a different outlook on things.

As humans, we hear a perspective that is different than ours and tend to scratch our head and wonder how on Earth can that person not see what I’m seeing?

“But their idea is backwards!” normally well-meaning, kind-hearted people will point out. And that my friends, is what we call a judgement.

When our judgments are in play, they keep us separated. In a world where everyone truly is longing for closeness, for togetherness, wholeness, oneness – we must be willing to drop our judgements to allow ourselves to come into alignment and therefore unity with others.

When we choose to use “but,” in a way we are discounting the other person’s perspective. We are making them wrong by superseding their position or perspective and invalidating their point… and by extension, them. When we use “but” we are making ourselves “right” and the other person “wrong.” “But” keeps us attached to our positionality.

“And” allows us to share and enhance the perspective without discounting or excluding the other person’s point. It’s inclusive, which feels good and even makes us feel secure on a primal level. “And” recognizes that we’re both sitting around the circle with our different perspectives being as worthy as the others.

Give it a try. Notice the next time you’re about to say “but” and instead say, “Yes, and…” I guarantee you will have more of their respect and admiration and maybe most valuable of all, their trust (a form of love). When you have someone’s trust, the most miraculous things can blossom that otherwise wouldn’t have seen the light of day.

As a professional life and business coach, Donna Bond, M.A. offers inspiring workshops and transformative in-depth coaching programs. A graduate of USM where she earned her master’s in Spiritual Psychology, Donna’s work centers on serving individual transformation of consciousness through personal coaching journeys and workshops helping you live a more meaningful life of purpose and aliveness. Visit DonnaBond.com for more information.