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A Nasty Word . . . and How to Cure Yourself

swept floorBUT
: a nasty, nasty word.

Your English essay was really good, BUT you keep making that same mistake with commas.

You washed the car!  BUT why didn’t you vacuum inside?

Wow!  What an excellent report card!  BUT why this “C”?

So glad you swept the floor, BUT you missed a spot here.

“But” invalidates our praise and compliments.  It stings the eager listener, turning a smile into disappointment.

How to cure yourself:

Put a period on your praise. Once you start saying something nice—noticing someone’s effort—put a period in the sentence right before the “but” pops out.  Just stop.  Don’t say it.  Bite your tongue. If your family is used to hearing a negative ouch on the end of every compliment from you, they are going to look at you in wonder…waiting for you to finish your sentence.  It’s kinda fun to watch them and confused and quite happy that you’ve stopped just in the nick of time!

Write yourself a note. Parents feel compelled to make sure children learn all that they need to learn, including how to write an essay with proper comma placement.  Seeing the commas misplaced jogs your memory…”oh, I really need to teach her how to use commas correctly!” Difficult as it is, do not mention it.  Jot yourself a private note to work on commas another day, when this paper is out of her mind. Let the good English paper be her happy success today!

Stop doing it to yourself.  Upbeat treatment of others starts with how you treat yourself. I got a great idea to remodel my bathroom, so I thought up a theme,  bought new towels, and eagerly ripped the wallpaper border off.  Well, part of it…the part I could easily reach.  That was weeks ago. Maybe longer.  It is easy to look at it and say to myself, “I’m enthused to remodel my bathroom, BUT I sure can’t finish a project.”  I am going to reword that right here and now: “It’s amazing that I got this far, considering all that is going on in my life!  Bravo!”

I’m on a campaign to banish “but” from my vocabulary forever….I know it will make my loved ones happier!



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jill Mulder July 28, 2014, 9:08 am

    Thank you, Diane! This is really a powerful concept. As usual, you have inspired me with something to think about and to do…

  • Robin Steinweg July 28, 2014, 12:05 pm

    What a wonderfully encouraging article, Diane–no buts about it! 🙂

  • Holly July 30, 2014, 9:26 pm

    Thanks for the pep talk. I do this all the time, I like your ideas to curb this bad habit. Thanks

  • Susan August 3, 2014, 4:05 pm

    Thank you for reminding me to keep my “but” covered. I enjoy your blog.

  • SJ November 1, 2014, 11:06 pm

    I hope you an your family are doing well