An Alternative to ‘But’

Dr. Alex Golden emphasizes the importance of intentional language use, highlighting the impact of words on communication and desired outcomes. She encourages listeners to consider the effect of their words, rather than simply using them without thought or purpose.

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Hello, everybody, Alex here with you. Welcome to becoming zesty. Thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Today I’m going to be talking about an alternative for the word but beauty. Right. So this is something that we talk about frequently when it comes to languaging is wording alternatives. Now, we don’t nitpick language, just because we think is fun, right? We don’t nitpick language, just because we think, you know, accuracy is important for its own sake. Because people understand language differently. They interpret words differently. There’s a lot of individual hard wiring when it comes to how we have interacted with concepts. And therefore, what our brain has meant them to mean. And that, you know, evidence that has happened in the history that we have with that all of that goes into play. So when it comes to wording, right, there’s just like semantics, and being nitpicky. And really when it comes to us over here, zesty, that is never our point. Communication is important for the effect that it has on relationships, discussions, points being made, you know, aha was all that. And that is the goal, right? So however that is accomplished is really a result, results oriented. intentionality, then isn’t we can mean well with our words and stillness, speak and cause issues. And that’s essentially the awareness that we’re wanting to help facilitate out in the world. Like, how can we communicate in a way that we persuade people to move to compel people to see things a certain way, right, this isn’t forced, this isn’t making somebody do anything. This isn’t being manipulative. None of that is at play is really to say, when I speak, I’m not just trying to run my mouth. When I speak, it’s because a result an effect is being had, right I’m causing, I’m starting a ripple effect by plunking down a stone in the lake. And now that’s going to ripple the effect that that ripple has is dependent on the quality of the stone that I threw, right. And so that stone verbally is the words that I chose when I was communicating and what message that I send, right so when there’s when we bring up things like removing the word, but from phrases and it’s it’s a topic we’ve touched on, on the podcast we talked about on social media, and and inevitably we get people saying, you know, words, don’t who cares, right? People get the message. Well, they get a message. But are they getting the message you intended? Is our question to them? Because you can you can say anything, but did it land? Did it have the effect you wanted? It was again and create the result you’re looking for? Or is it not? Because I think all of us know we put our foot in her mouth at some point or another If you haven’t, kudos to you, but they couldn’t be me. But the Yeah, that’s where, you know, most of us are not going for that effect. And so that’s, that’s really the point. And also, you know, some people are like, well, but but is a normal thing to say? Sure. It’s a common thing to say it might be normalized out in the world. And what effect is it having? Right? I could say, but what effect is it having and that would hit different, right. And so because we’ve talked about it, this is not a podcast on the word. But But and rather than an alternative to it. I also want to point out that there are times where we intentionally use the word but in sentences. And there’s nothing wrong with that, right? It’s not the exclusion of words or anything like that it is simply having more leverage more intentionality, more purposefulness to what we’re saying. It takes a little bit more energy to do it that way. And the effect then is greater most of the time, as long as there’s a benefit, as long as there’s a pail, people’s brains will say, Okay, that was worth it. Now, if there’s not, then there’s issues, but of course, that’s where we want to be as intentional as possible so that we’re not coming across those situations very often in life. So what’s this alternative? This one I really, really like. And I actually learned it from a parenting book, this is what to say what, so kids will listen and how to listen, how to talk, so kids will listen and how to listen. So kids will talk. And the alternative for but really, I understand that you want this snack, but we’re going to have dinner. That one was replaced in that book, this was a suggestion that I began to implement in my own world. It was instead of but replacing that with the problem is, so it will go with my example of go like this. I know you want the snack really bad. The problem is we’re going to have dinner soon. So now it’s not it’s not done, or whatever. And the ending of that is. And I have been, I’ve continued to be pleasantly surprised at both the effect on kids from a parenting perspective. And on other adults, partners, friends, family members, because as I get into the habit of wording things a certain way, it just tends to pop out. I don’t necessarily have to try to speak that way. In other contexts. It just happened. And because of that, that’s where I didn’t necessarily expect or look for a result in the other people. I was applying it in my mind. It was like I’m, this is a parenting thing. I am. This is the area of life that I’m focusing this on. And so my association with it was that it ends so I was not necessarily looking for or having the expectation to see that it would also work with adults. I mean, I guess I did not think that, but I just never really focused my attention there. It was just like this isn’t, that’s not really what I’m using it for. And what I’ve found over time, is that as I began accidentally coming present, I noticed that it worked just as well as with the kids, which again, was not surprising to me. I wish I had thought that right away, but I didn’t. And yeah, the effect was that it the way that people would respond, kids or adults would be from a place of feeling seen and heard more. And I realized it made a lot of sense to say, you know, I am acknowledging something that’s happening in your world. But there’s this other more important or more relevant or more timely or whatever thing happening. That structure all in one sentence combined with but seem to always land as a negation of the first part of the sentence. And that’s what people talk about. It always does come across that way. So like I love you, but could you please stop doing that? I mean, how how many of us really hear and focus on and are soothed by that first I love you but Right. Or even if someone says I love you, but and then they try alive. What is your brain doing? It’s going to be like but what were you gonna say? All right, no one ever wants to let that go. And the more anxious see, we are the obviously, like, back in the day when I had a more anxious attachment style, I was just like that would have driven me crazy. I would have wanted to like, be like, no, really let me like hunt you down and and have a conversation and try to figure it out and hear you out and whatever, right. And so that is that if it whether someone actually responds that way or not, or if they would just have one or two, or if it’s just as an open loop in their mind, like but but but but but Right. And instead the when you end the sentence as the acknowledgement of someone’s world, and then that sentence ends with a period, there’s a certain finality of that acknowledgement, right to say, I know you really want that snack right now. I know that that sounds really good to you right now. Or whatever the situation is, to actually state it as here’s what’s happening. You are seeing I hear you, I see you, I can understand that. That is what you’re going after that this seems like a 10 out of 10 for you on an emotional charge level period.

That has a certain ripple effect on another person. And oftentimes, you can see that in their facial expressions as I begin to unconsciously utilize this with other people, I just noticed that they’re their face, their body language, like the stuff that we teach in our level one certification, their iPads or movements, facial changes, even like flushing and blood flow changes, body language, tone, they’re all that stuff if you are trained, especially to look for it, but most of us unconsciously sort of pick up a certain amount anyways, as we read people, that is I began to see the fact that someone could really see that I understood that first part. And then bridge with the problem is that statement helps to bring everybody’s attention in that conversation that intention is focused on there is an external problem, right? That problem does not lie in the first sentence where your world exists as it is, or your experience of the world. And then it’s it’s also not necessarily saying my problem is, right. And so neither person necessarily with that wording is blamed for the problem. And oftentimes, isn’t it so true that in life, it’s not necessarily a someone decided problem or someone create a problem? Like, if it’s dinnertime? It’s just usually dinner time that time a day, like it’s not like you just up and decided to have dinner at three or something you just that’s when you normally eat the problem is that where it’s dinnertime, right? It’s a neutral condition. And so often it is even as neutral condition. Today, I feel really tired. And that’s making me crabby, right? Yes, that’s a problem. And that could be my home. But am I expected to never feel that way? Maybe not. Right? I in our house? No, you’re not expected to always be on. So even if it’s technically my problem. The people around me who love me can also look at it neutrally with me, the problem is that this is how what’s going on today. So we’re gonna do this. And this instead is just not really in that structure. The wording, it’s more than just semantics is actually clearly expressing that we have a shared issue here that is impacting others, desires, needs, values, whatever, right? And together, we can go work on that problem. So whenever I have, especially as I was sharing that unconsciously, I was just notice people’s body language and tone and things changed so much that then I started paying attention. I mean, I think to me, if I expect an improvement to be had, I will often look longer and look for more number of times to get to feel like okay, I’m not necessarily looking at it from a bias stay because I know how the brain works and we’re all looking for the to fix we expect right to pick up so the that is a little bit different to me now in this case, that wasn’t what was on my mind. And so as I began to note it, that’s where I began to intentionally utilize it and look and look for it as well as just from a higher level perspective. And it was true. I mean, it just really has played out over time that every time that I’ve utilized that, I am pleasantly surprised at how smoothly the follow up the remainder of the conversation has gone. Even if someone is really upset about a certain expectation they had or, or just feeling a type of way or whatever, desiring something that can’t happen at the moment to say, I know that that is what you want. The problem is and to explain it and come together on it from my connected plays, so far, has always been a positive thing has always come to the forefront as something where I look back on it, and I was like, wow, that I was I was nervous about that conversation. And, and what is cool is kind of having those repetitive experiences it has allowed me to see words really do matter. It really does matter how and what you express ideas. By and through and with, you know, that that it’s not just a would be nice kind of thing, right? Where our tongues are relatively sharp blades, and especially at times where we are emotionally charged. So if we can practice these wording differences, when we are in our more resourceful are more calm or more peaceful states, I have found that it is a worthwhile endeavor, because the amount of time you get to shave off on conflict, repairing the conflict, feeling a type of way about the conflict journaling about the conflict having to go to therapy for like, you know, all the things. What if we could learn to utilize our language in a more persuasive way in a more compelling way in a way that gets the message across while honoring both sides of the equation? Well, saying my experience doesn’t have to shortchange yours. And yours doesn’t have to shortchange mine. But what we can do is see each other’s point of view and come together on that. Hey, that’s cool, right? That’s a really, really beautiful place to be in any partnership. And think of that multiplied you with your people. And then your people with all their people, and all their people with their people. The ripple effect is huge. It might just seem like Retama one wording change here. But what we’re talking about is a really, really, really big deal. So let’s go out there. Let’s help the world become more zesty. And let’s be a little more intentional with our language and see what happens. Alright, sending you lots of love. We’ll catch you soon on the next episode. Have a good day.