The dangerous word But

"But I would add ..."

It's been a while ago, a senior director explained me the pitfalls and dangers of the word but. People nod and the word but is the beginning of their refusal. Soon, they have said so many but and put forward behind the but so many arguments that no one is willing to do something. A manager would like - of course - that people do what he wants. From that point of view but is a dangerous word.

Looking at it in the cold light of day the essential point is however, whether it is a legitimate objection or a pretence following the but. Pretences are just excuses to do nothing at all.

Do you know that too? You want to change something, but it does not work. Again and again there are obstacles. Did you ever examine all your but - arguments? And do you have objections or pretences?


ssgreylord said...

I think we use the word but so often without thinking about it. It's such a negative, natural instinct. I am trying as I type to think of instances when it is useful and I find only a few. (i.e., I know you're busy, but if you want to, come and see me) I'm sure there are more. But (here I go) what stands out to me is your point that it can be so negative and demotivating.

The Fearless Blog said...

Very interesting questions and a very interesting post. Personally, I distrust the folks who use "but" often. I see it as an excuse, a way of dismissing their own faults or finding a way to point blame at someone or something else. However, as you suggest there are occasions when "but" is quite appropriate and necessary, for instance, to show contrast and differences.

There is a special award for you at my blog.

Ray Gratzner said...

dear ssgreylord, I will follow your invitation and will occupy myself as a but-counter. grin ;-) Thank you for commenting

Dear fearless blog, thank you for your thoughts and for awarding me. I really appreciate it.

Jena Isle said...

You're absolutely right Ray, we use the word BUT more often because when we don't want to do something, we make excuses. "I would like to do that BUT..." , "You're beautiful BUT..." It is very convenient for us to use the word but. On the other hand, it could be used in a positive manner: " I don't don't have time today, BUT I'll be sure to come tomorrow." , "It's raining, BUT I see no vital reason why we can't go out." etc.

Thought -provoking post as usual. Thanks Ray for reminding us of these small but very significant truths. You're a wonderful blogger.

All the best.

Ray Gratzner said...

Dear jena, I feel a light blushing when you make me compliments ;-)
Indeed, the way you use the but is a very sensible way to do that. Thank you for showing that... all the best..