Hide Your “But”

In most workplaces and academic institutions, we commonly encounter dress-codes of sorts that ensure that nothing is uncomfortably being revealed – however – there are other things we must consider hiding in our daily communications as we go about exchanging ideas. Today, we kindly ask you to adhere to any dress codes, and most of all – hide your “but(s).”

There is a proverbial notion that anything before a “but” is moot or cancellled out by that very word, and I want to explain how that is very, very accurate. Have you found yourself saying:

“Your piece was good, but…”

“I liked it, but…”

“This article is great, but…”

Hopefully, the last example doesn’t occur, but back to the point – think of how this feels to hear if you are giving feedback to someone. “I liked your idea, but…” really just comes off as whatever you say next. “I liked your performance, but I think it could have been better” often breaks down to the recipient hearing just the harsh feedback or criticism, and not your attempt to be fairly complimentary.

Instead of pulling out your “but,” think about how you can better phrase or approach your ideas and opinions in a positive, constructive light. For example: “I liked the food you served me, but it was a little spicy” could easily be flipped up into “the spicy food you served me was greatly appreciated, and I think the next time I come here to eat I will try something a little sweeter as it took me back a bit.” Don’t get me wrong – the example, as generic as it is, is a good way to understand keeping your “but” out of things and leaves the recipient feeling more appreciated and leaves you appearing more empathetic and positive.

This is just one example of how simple, subtle nuances in our language can change the way we express and portray our ideas and opinions. Besides proper framing and word-choice, another vulnerability we have when it comes to giving effective feedback to others is how grammatically correct it is.. Don’t let your messages and ideas get spoiled by poor grammar and simple mistakes – that is why we here at Bibliate find the tools and features of Grammarly to be very helpful when it comes to our work in academia and writing as a whole. So the next time you write something, take a step back and think about what you wrote – it might mean more than you think. 

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