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No "but" In Negotiation

What’s the psychological effect when someone uses the word “but”?

Let’s think about that for a minute.  How do you feel whenever you state your opinion and the other person says “but”? It’s likely you’ve never thought about this. And yet the effect is there. Very subtle, and still present.  Subconsciously, anytime we hear “but”, we know the other person disagrees and most likely (since it’s most of the time) they weren’t even listening to us.  This is true for the most part because many of us are usually only in our own heads, thinking of what we will say next, instead of listening to the other side.   There’s an old saying that anything before the word “but” is usually BS (a lie).  So psychologically, this word puts people in a disagreeable state instead of into an agreeable one. It makes them defensive. It closes their minds off from your response.  Using “and” instead of “but” subconsciously tells the other party you agree with them—even if you don’t—and keeps their ears and mind open to your proposal.  Why? Because we tend to listen to people when they agree with us.  Let’s look at an example and notice the emotional difference you feel when saying both.

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A: I want to start the meeting off by talking about price, then move on to distribution.  B: But... I think distribution needs to come first then we can talk about price.

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A: I want to start the meeting off by talking about price, then move on to distribution.  B: And... I think distribution needs to come first then we can talk about price.

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A very simple example, yes. Don't worry if it's grammatically correct here. We want the counter-party to actually listen to what we say instead of closing off. And you can adjust this as you improve: B: And... yes, price is extremely important. What if we take care of distribution then move on to price after we hash out some details? Or: B: And... yes, that's a very important issue. Is it ok if we can clear up some distribution figures before moving to price?

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Of course, this can go on but you get the picture.  Try it out. It might feel a little weird because of the grammar, but it will be more effective. (Also, did you notice how I didn't use "but" in my sentences? Go back and replace "and"—and see how it feels different.) Stay healthy! {Quote to think about: "Enjoy the present, prepare for the future, learn from the past."}

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