But, wait--isn't this one of our go-to words for expressing ourselves? Yes, it is. And in most situations, it works just fine. Despite the fact that "but" has quite a few uses in our language--both formal and informal--in some scenarios, it can have a negative effect on your conversations.

Often times, this word is used negatively--like in situations where you're giving feedback and perhaps criticism. Obviously, you need to do that sometimes. It is so overused, though, many folks already hear it coming before the word comes out of your mouth. How? Often the word "but" follows what may sound like reluctant praise or a positive statement you're about to "undo" in a sense.

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When we use the word "but" after what would otherwise be considered praise or a positive statement, it has the effect of negating it. Why? Because it takes the focus off of the "good part," and moves it to the negating truth of what you're trying to say. For example:

"I really do love you, but..."

"That dress looks nice on you, but..."

See what I mean?

I'm not saying we should stop using the word, "but" we should be careful and consider what it is we're really seeking to convey. If we're not careful, in certain scenarios, it may cause the listener to feel resentment, defensive, or discouraged. If you need to give corrective feedback but you don't want to discredit the positive feedback either, there are better ways to do that.

Substitute the word "but" with "and," or "and at the same time," depending on what works contextually. This is a great way to keep it more positive. For example:

Instead of saying "I really do love you, but I want to take some time apart," try "I really do love you, and at the same time, I think having some time apart would be good for our relationship."

Has a different vibe, doesn't it?

Next time you're going to have a focused conversation with someone, think about some better ways to phrase your message. You are much more likely to get better feedback and results.

Good luck.