It isn’t always easy to hold two seemingly conflicting ideas in your mind at the same time.
I believe this is why too often too many people live in a But World. When they mention two different ideas or opinions to link them together with ” but” which linguistically implies and telegraphs that the latter one is the preferred, agreed on, or most important of the two ideas.
I’ve long been a proponent of an And World, where many of the “buts” we say are replaced with “and”. This change is more than semantics, it implies linguistically that both ideas have merit, should be considered and discussed.
Sitting in a meeting yesterday as a consultant to an organization I saw this happening, and have been thinking about the implications to us as leaders. First, the situation . . .
In this meeting the leader asks team members to share challenges that are occurring in the organization. Members share valid concerns and issues are discussed. One member in particular, while sharing ideas and issues others had brought to her, seemed to be agreeing with some of the issues.
As an outsider one might have thought her opinion and attitude about the organizational culture was souring.
However, later in the meeting she said “This is the best place I’ve ever worked. I plan on dying here.”
If an individual (or leader) is living in the But World, one of two things can be surmised. Either the last comment is the one the matters most because it came last (and therefore we don’t need to worry about the issues) or the issues are the main message, and the later positive comment is undervalued.
If on the other hand, an individual lives in the And World, the recognize the importance and validity of both of these points. There are challenges, AND this is a great place to work.
The message of using, or thinking, but is different than using and.
A world of “and” gives us more choices, creates a more balanced view of situations and problems but The “But” World provides less of those things.
But draws sides, and creates understanding.
But creates division, and creates balance.
As leaders we need to help others think and, rather than but. To do that, we must build that habit for ourselves first.