Replace ‘But’ With ‘And’ 2

Elisabeth Shue

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Do you remember the scene from the movie Leaving Las Vegas where Ben (Nicolas Cage) falls through the glass table at the pool side and Sera (Elisabeth Shue) starts to clean up the mess? The owner of the motel where they stayed came to take it over and told her with a big smile on her face to keep inside their room with their annoying and noisy behavior and that they going to check out first thing in the morning and then never come back.

What’s intriguing in this scene is that this woman keeps smiling whilst telling her that they can fuck off. I’m sure she did never read Dale Carnegies How to win friends and influence people. In my opinion everybody should have a copy of this work on his bookshelf.

One of the first very helpful things I filtered out of it for my own daily life was making a tiny, little change when I had a sort of critique about something. We all know it, but most of us are not aware of it.

I’m sure you too make someone a compliment about something and then add “but ….” to it. For example: “I really glad that you took the effort to fix the drainpipe but you left a big mess behind after you were finished.”

Because of the ‘but’, the person you talk to immediately knows that a critique is coming and that you are going to destroy the compliment you made in the first place. So they know that the compliment wasn’t really meant. It’s worthless, let’s face it. All you achieve with this is creating a dislike against you and bring the motivation level of the other person to zero.

What if you replace this ‘but’, with ‘and’ and add something the other person looks forward too. You could try this version: ‘Wow, I’m really glad that you fixed the drainpipe and once you cleaned up the workspace everybody will think that I hired a professional to do the job.’

What version would you like more to hear?

Maybe you ask yourself right now if this works every time with every person. Well, no. I had a tenant who developed the habit of never being on time with paying the rent. It got worse every month. I tried to motivate him like this when he finally paid. The only thing I achieved was that I could hear more of his stories and excuses. In the end I did not extent his timely contract and let him go.

Spencer Johnson prefers by the way another approach. First criticize and then praise. The other way around doesn’t works in his opinion. What do you think? Do you have any experiences with this? Please let us know.

Have a nice day,

Further articles:
That Little Smile
How Do You Deal With Criticism?

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