Make a Big Difference With a Little Word

logoI love it when people say “Yes and…”

Not so much when they say “Yes but…”

Yes and…” expands possibilities.  The word and shapes a conversation in which one person expands on what the other says.  “Yes but…” limits it.

A Simple Strategy for Saying “No”

But when you use the word but with “No,” it’s a different story. “No but…” opens possibilities rather than shutting them down.

Think about these sentences:

  • No, I don’t want to do that, but is there another way I can help?
  • No, I can’t do that, but feel free to stay in touch.
  • No, I’m not interested, but I don’t want my decision to hurt our friendship.

Used with “no“, the word but  softens a limit, opening a door to an ongoing relationship.

We often think about how hard it is to hearNo because we fear being rejected. But it’s also hard to sayNo” because it’s so definitive it stops the conversation in its tracks. So often, rather than saying the “No” we really think, we waffle.

Learn How to Say “No” by Adding a “But”

The next  time you have made a decision to say “no,” try adding a “but.”  You’ll probably find it easier to be clear and set limits in a way that feels good to both you and your asker.

No but” is a much better response than “maybe.

Maybe” simply kicks a negative decision down the road. That’s not helpful to either you or the person who is wanting a decision.

The people at Mind Tools build on this idea with their blog about saying “yes” to the person and “no” to the task.

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Add a “But” the Next Time You Say “No”

The next time someone asks you to do something you’d rather not do, respond with “No, but…” and see what happens. Your intent will be clear and you will leave the door open to a healthy, ongoing relationship.

Have you ever tried the “No but…” approach? If so, tell me about it in the comments box below.

  • Robert Geiger

    Love it! A very powerful technique, indeed!

    • Thanks, Robert. I love thinking about how very sensitive language is.