Use “And” Instead Of “But” – Here’s Why

In This Series

This is part of a 4-week series designed to help teams reach a higher level of performance


Using “And” Instead of “But” Inspires Innovation

Overcoming the excuses that inhibit your story

Are you being weighed down by a big butt? No, not that kind of butt. We’re talking about the kind of “but” that keeps you from moving forward. It limits your ability to connect to others and prevents your team from moving to a new level of innovation, communication and performance.

Imagine that you’re excited about a new idea. Eagerly, you start to share it with a colleague, but in the middle of the conversation they start “but”-ing you around: “But you should…” “But that might…” And then they pull out the biggest but of them all: “Yes, but…” In the end, you feel defeated and your excitement has been drained. 

Although their intent was to be helpful, your relationship has been impacted. Will you be confiding in this person in the future? Do you feel respected? Do you feel heard?

Coaching - Fastest Growing Industry

Language Can Either Help or Harm Team Culture

“But” statements are limiting. They keep your team from living your story by putting up roadblocks that prevent action and innovation. If you want to transform your team to become a high-performance team, it is important to shift from this limiting mindset to an abundance mindset that inspires innovation and confident action. 

Every conversation is a chance to form a stronger connection with your team, so it is important to nip “buts” in the bud. Give permission to each other to call out “but” statements and prompt each other to shift them to “and” statements. 

I recommend taking a playful approach. For example, “your but just knocked me over.” It will not take long before everyone is self-correcting and connecting.

Overcome “Buts” by Playing This Game

Start busting the “buts” in your workplace. In your next team-building session, play the “Big But Game.”

Overcome “Buts” by Here are the rules:
  1. One person designs a team trip. Give them five minutes outside of the room to come up with some ideas, and for you to instruct the team on how to reply.
  2.  When the team member returns to pitch the idea, everyone in the room responds to the trip ideas with “but.” For example, “But what if the weather is bad.”
  3. Don’t let the trip designer in on the secret just yet. Ask him/her to incorporate feedback and take another five minutes outside of the room to formulate another option.
  4.  This time, everyone responds with “and” statements. For example, “And our friends can come.”
  5. As the team member shares this time, notice the possibilities that begin to arise. Open discussion around what they noticed for themselves and the trip designer between the “but” and the “and” responses.
  6.  I have played this game often with teams, and there is always a big “ah-ha” moment. Now, it’s time for you to take the challenge to incorporate a positive language strategy such as this into your working relationships.


Making a team effort to use “and” instead of “but” will allow you to look at obstacles from a different angle and consider creative solutions. This simple shift in language will create a powerful shift in the team culture and set you up for success. This is one of many simple shifts change leaders must implement to accomplish team transformation.


Tell us what you think

Leave us a reply in the section below. We’d love to hear from you!

Join our email list