Empowering Language – Part I

There are a few small changes in our language that have the potential to make a huge shift in how we show up in the world, to others and to ourselves.  The next few posts will be about making those changes.  Keep in mind that although these changes deal with small words, the changes can take a lot of practice!  The words we say become ingrained in us and are so habitual that at first it may seem like a losing battle. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, knowing that even the awareness of a “slip” is progress! Keep practicing until the new words become your default mode.

The first one we’ll talk about here is “no buts.”  Whenever we use the word “but” in a sentence, the part of the sentence that comes before the “but” is completely disregarded by the hearer.  That first part, however powerful or complimentary it may be, completely loses its power with the addition of the “but”.  Consider the following statements, I’ve placed the possible interpretation (what the hearer is “hearing” in brackets.) :

I know you are busy right now, but I need your help with this project. [whatever you are busy with is not as important as what I need]

I’d love to go with you, but I need to work on my paper. [I’d rather work on my paper]

Your new haircut is cute, but I like your hair long. [I liked your hair better when it was long]

Can you see how the acknowledgments at the beginning of each sentence lost some steam as they got left behind the “but”?
Now look at what happens when we say the same statements and replace the “but” with “and”.

I know you are busy right now, and I need your help with this project.
I’d love to go with you, and I need to work on my paper.
Your new haircut is cute, and I like your hair long.

The use of “and” instead of “but” allows each statement to remain true, even if they are conflicting, without giving more power to the second statement.    This, in turn, avoids or lessens defensiveness on the part of the hearer, who will be more apt to hear both statements with equal clarity.

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3 Responses to Empowering Language – Part I

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