On having ‘no buts meetings’

A few weeks ago, irritated a bit by the extensive usage of the word but in our office conversations, I proposed to the team I work in to run ‘no buts meetings’. While not every but is as obnoxious as using the conjunction in phrase structures like “you did a great job in the project, but…”, to keep things simple the proposal was to skip all buts. Same for synonyms like however, still, though.

As the meeting unfolded, we realized that it was a challenging task to keep the conversation clean and the sentences to the point. We often seek to smoothen our tone in business conversations and it sometimes backfires in the form of confusion, unclarity and exaggerated politeness.

While some suggest using words that have the same meaning, my proposal is to shorten sentences and use a full stop or a comma instead of ‘but’.

I feel you did a great job on the project, but there were things missing…” becomes “I feel you did a great job on the project. There were also some things missing…

In this way the praising part of the statement does not get polluted with the slightly negative tone of the reproach sentence. Pausing a bit after the full stop allows the receiving end to take in the compliment and feel proud of their results.

So, here’s a challenge, should you accept it: run as many ‘no buts meetings’ as possible. And one final tip, make it stress-free! If the word does slip in, it’s ok! It will be better as you keep practicing.


Language learning tip – set the pace

Such a great advice I received this evening: if you want to improve on a language, be the one that sets the pace. It’s easy to have a conversation in English, but if you want to learn French, try it with every opportunity. And do it over and over again, until the other person understands that you do want the conversation to stay in French, even though you have difficulty speaking it.

The connections between noun gender and architecture

A quick one this time. I have a keen interest in how the words we use shape traits of our personality, so this news eluded me. Some countries have gender for inanimate objects. And, in some cases, the gender for the same object changes from country to country. The words bridge, clock, apartment, fork are feminine in German and masculine in Spanish, for example. Continue reading