I wanted to write this post yesterday but I could not do it. But I am writing today, though I am short of time. And this post is all about “but” and why to minimize or eliminate its usage.
Here is a famous conversation from the “Game of Thrones”
Tyrion Lannister: I’m not sure what I’ve done to offend you. I have great admiration for the Night’s Watch. I have great admiration for you as First Ranger…
Benjen Stark: You know, my brother once told me that nothing someone says before the word “but” really counts.
Tyrion Lannister: But… I don’t believe that giants and ghouls and white walkers are lurking beyond the Wall…
Benjen got it spot on here.
Anything said before the word “but” rarely counts!
After all, “but” is not really a bad conjunction. It does a reasonably good job of connecting two sentences. The problem is in the context of its usage.
It is often used for excuses and excuses highlight negativity. A person who use excuses, usually see the glass half empty!
Here are 3 Golden Rules regarding “but”
- Never ever start your sentence with a “but” (watch this wonderful clip with Marshall Goldsmith)
- Replace your “but” with a short pause (Instead of I could have reached early but I was caught in a meeting, say I could have reached early (short pause) I was caught in a meeting)
- Eliminate excuses and state the facts. In such cases, a “but” is nothing but redundant
Tip: Another close companion of “but” is “however”. Apply the same principles and you will have better conversations!