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Avoid ‘But’ in Communication – Use ‘And’ Instead

Michelle Mooney, Seattle Therapist

Mar 4, 2021

Why should you avoid using ‘but’? It can come off to someone as attacking and immediately put them on the defensive. These ‘but’ statements come naturally, and can sometimes have a negative impact on the workplace, your relationship, or your subconscious. Find out why you should replace ‘but’ with ‘and’ in statements and see real life examples of this technique in action.

‘But’ Statements in Communication are Risky

Using the word ‘And’ vs. ‘But’ is one of the most effective tools I use with my clients. It can really change the way we think about ourselves and how we communicate with others. Simply used, the word ‘But’ negates whatever precedes it and can create a sense of defensiveness. Saying the word ‘And’ instead creates more effective and non-defensive conversation.

Using the Word ‘And’ Instead of ‘But’

By using the word ‘And’ you channel a more collaborative feeling with your communication. This is important to both people because it improves the chances you’ll agree. Make an effort to say positive statements by using the word ‘And’ more often. Swapping ‘But’ for ‘And’ improves the delivery of your statement and reception of feedback.
For example, In the workplace, comments using ‘But’ like this are common:
Using ‘But’
“Sam, you made good progress this year, ‘But’ I know you still can improve on your numbers”
Sam can tune out and get on the defensive as soon as they hear the ‘But’ in his supervisor’s comments regarding his job performance.
Using ‘And’
“Sam, you made good progress this year ‘and’ I know you can improve on your numbers”
This softens the blow a bit for Sam and the connotation of the word “And” is positive. The use of ‘And’ still connects the 2 statements in a way that is more positive and gives one a feeling of being on the same team.

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13 Ways to Stop Using ‘But’ In Communication

Try to notice how often you use ‘But’ in everyday statements. Now reframe the sentence in your mind with ‘And’ and notice the positive difference. Practicing using ‘And’ vs. ‘But’ over time will improve your communication and relationships. Below are some examples of saying ‘And’ and avoiding ‘But’.


This is an essential tool that I use in Seattle couples counseling. A little change goes a long way toward making the other person feel loved and not attacked.

  1. “I had a great time, and I would prefer to just be friends”
  2. “I see that you are upset and I need to honour my feelings too.”
  3. “I feel hurt by what you did, and it would be helpful next time if you could say that differently”
  4. “I love you and we need to take a look at our spending habits”
  5. “We are going to your parent’s this year for the holidays, and next year I would like to visit mine”
  6. “I know you are tired and I need to take 20 minutes for myself. Can you watch the kids?”


You may recognize yourself saying these statements often. In family therapy, I often stress the importance of word choice in sentences. Children follow our examples, so avoid negative language and say ‘and’ more often.

  1. “I know you’re tired, and you still need to clean your room”
  2. “I know you really want that new toy and we will look at it again near your birthday”
  3. “I know you want to watch TV and you need to finish your homework”


Even using ‘and’ more when talking to yourself can make for a better mindset.

  1. “I feel guilty taking time for myself and I’m still going to take the time.”
  2. “I did really well delivering my speech and I totally missed that third point!”
  3. “I lost 5 pounds and I have 10 more pounds to go”
  4. “I don’t want to work and I can still show up today.”

Embrace the ‘And’ Statement

The bottom line – Avoiding ‘But’, and saying the word ‘And’ instead gives more direct and constructive feedback, while better validating others feelings. Using ‘And’ allows you to share your opinion without dismissing the feelings and needs of others.
If you need help improving your communication, individual, family or couple’s therapy can help.


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