“I liked everything you did on the project, but…”
“You put in a lot of effort, but…”
“I did everything you asked. But …”

but‘But’ is a set up for negativity. It’s telling the listener that ‘the other shoe is about to drop’. It’s letting judgment come into the picture so the listener knows they are never good enough. It’s training the listener to expect to be put down, to get their shields ready, to avoid really listening and prepare to get defensive instead.

Or, it’s letting you off the hook because you’re about to not take responsibility for something. Maybe you’re going to blame someone or something else.

If you want your employee or someone in your life to deeply listen, be engaged and empowered, can you really afford to put ‘but’ into your conversation and coaching?


Practice: Ask someone to count how many times you let ‘but’ creep into your conversation. Make it a fun exercise that helps you improve your way of speaking to people. Share it with your staff or family and eliminate ‘but’ from all the conversations in your workplace, family or friendships.

Jeri Quinn

Jeri Quinn from Driving Improved Results is an executive coach, management consultant, speaker and author who focuses on communication in her work with executives and companies. She is the author of The Customer Loyalty Playbook, 12 Game Strategies to Drive Improved Results in Your Business. With more than 40 years as a serial entrepreneur.

Quinn has worked with executives and teams in over 40 industries, spoken at major business expos including New York City’s Javits Center, facilitated business development and extraordinary customer service at institutions such as MoMA and AIG, and has partnered with New York City, The Kauffman Foundation, Citibank, Merrill Lynch, HSBC, and Signature Bank to educate their clients.


She can be reached at:

I told people what I was doing


Now I want to share the change journey. Will you join me? Sign up for my personal insights into how to make big change happen.

Get Our 5★ Rated Book

Customer Loyatly Playbook - 12 Game Strategies to Drive Improved Results in your BusinessRead First Chapter Free




Thank you. I will reply within 24 hours, unless this is a weekend or a US holiday.