Friday, June 04, 2010
A Huge Interpersonal Communication Problem
Another Patton Associates S-M-A-R-TBriefing™
“The Dangers of Billy-Goating”
Might you be using a word repeatedly that is interfering with your ability to communicate effectively? The dangerous word to which I refer is ‘but’. This little word can severely damage your oral communication as well as your letter, e-mail or Blog/Web site writing.
You'll hopefully permit me to call the practise of repeatedly using ‘but’ when responding to points made by another, ‘billy-goating’. Male goats called billy-goats and, especially their kids, spent a great deal of wasted effort and time ‘butting’ heads.
Using ‘but’ in a written or spoken sentence often frames your message in a way you do not intend. Employed to link two seemingly similar thoughts, the word often has an opposite effect. It can put another on the defensive by seemingly discounting what you just said.
Consider the following: "I was really impressed with your presentation, BUT next week we need to start exactly on time." “Your approach does seem to have some advantages BUT I’m still more comfortable with mine.” “You’re certainly welcome to look elsewhere BUT I’m confident you’ll discover we’re your best option.” What implications, ripple effects, and reactions come up for you with each of these examples? (Please, consider this for a moment before you read on.)
Each time you hear ‘but’, do you feel a clunk in your stomach like me? The way many of us use ‘but’ it can have the habit of negating the first part of our sentence. Its use seems to imply: "I didn't really mean what I just said. I'm only being polite."
There are better ways to join your thoughts that are not off-putting and will not put another on the defensive. The substitute word, ‘and”, is inclusive and respectful.
Sense how different these statements feel from those above. You are saying the very same thing but sending a very different message. "I was really impressed with your presentation, AND next week we need to start exactly on time." “Your approach does seem to have some advantages AND I’m still more comfortable with mine.” You’re certainly welcome to look elsewhere AND I’m confident you’ll discover we’re your best option.” What other ways can you think of to link two thoughts without using ‘but’?
Here’s your customer service and people skills S-M-A-R-TTip™: "Eliminate ‘but’ from your vocabulary and stop billy-goating those with whom you interact!"gfp '42™ You will communicate better and more powerfully when you do, no matter who or how you serve. Remember, quality customer service is a moment-to-moment choice. And life is an unending series of choices.
Please drop me a line using the link immediately below this paragraph. I'd love to hear what you think and how you feel about the above.
With my compliments and permission to reproduce, without change, including the following:
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