Simple words can be packed with powerful meanings. In 1966 Yoko Ono created an entire art piece based on the power of the meaning of the word ‘yes’, which brought her together with John Lennon for the first time. Viewers climbed a white ladder in the center of the room, from where a magnifying glass hanging from the ceiling allowed them to view the word “YES” written in very small letters on a framed sheet of paper attached to the ceiling. Just imagine the number of meanings this small three-letter word can carry.

Another three-letter word that packs a powerful meaning is the word ‘but’. It’s a common word that we use regularly in our conversations that can have a very unwanted effect.

Consider the sentence:

“This is a really good idea Susan but we don’t have the budget to implement it right now.”

The problem is that ‘but’ is a rapport killer. When Susan hears this sentence she will unconsciously process ‘but’ as disagreement. The ‘but’ brings into questions whether the person she is speaking to really does believe it is a good idea, or are they just trying to be kind about their rejection.

In order to maintain rapport consider using the word ‘and’ as an alternative to ‘but’. It may sound strange the first few times you use it and the person you are speaking to won’t notice the word swap. They will, however, notice the collaborative meaning of the adjusted sentence:

“This is a really good idea Susan and we don’t have the budget to implement it right now.”

The ultimate meaning is the same: the idea will not be implemented, at least for now. However, the use of the word ‘and’ has both maintained rapport and confidence in the fact that the speaker believes the idea is good.

Obviously, there are times when using the word ‘but’ is more appropriate because you want to have the effect that this word delivers. Now you have an alternative for when rapport and the sense of agreement are critical, even when you actually disagree.