If You Want to Be Successful, Watch Your Buts

If You Want to Be Successful, Watch Your Buts

Using This word Can Be subliminally Sabotaging Your Mindset

As business owners there are always times we need to communicate with our customers, and sometimes we can stumble with words. How many times have you heard someone use the word "like" or "you know" while carrying on a normal conversation? Or maybe they'll even string them together at the end of a sentence, like, you know? Guilty!

These are called filler words, similar to "um" and "uh." They mean nothing and are merely a placeholder while the person speaking gathers their thoughts.

Of more significance is one cautionary word of which we need to become aware. A word that can create ill will with our audience, friends, family and more importantly, our own thinking -- the word BUT. Read each of the sentences below, and no, they're not color coded for Christmas.

I know I could be a successful entrepreneur, BUT I just can't find the time.  
I think that dress looks amazing on you, BUT you may want to rethink the color.
I would like to speak on stage, BUT I don't have the confidence.

The word BUT changes a green light comment into a red flag.  

In the words of talk show host and psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw, "BUT is a powerful word. It means forget everything I just said, I'm now going to tell you what I really mean."

When you use the word BUT, the words that follow are the words that are remembered. When speaking to others, you could be projecting that they need improvement or are dismissing their opinions. When talking to yourself, you're offering yourself either a jab that eats at your self-confidence or giving yourself an escape.  

You and you alone are responsible for the impact your words have both internally and externally. If you frequently speak to customers, and you use the word BUT a lot in your sentences, take stock of how it sounds from their perspective.

When you're speaking to yourself, you are sending a subliminal message that holds you back or stops you because it becomes your truth. You are blocking the success within you.

There are 5 main reasons that cause BUT to enter your speech with derogatory influence.

1. You are procrastinating or making excuses not to do something. It's your justification for not doing it, even though it's probably the most important thing you need to do. "I have to take my car in for service, BUT it's too cold out to do it today." So you don't.


2. You are not excited enough to make it happen. You will most likely always have an excuse because it's not something with a deadline or consequence. "I should be practicing the piano, BUT there's a sale at the thrift store today." So you don't. This includes taking advice from others.

3. You reject advice or constructive criticism from others. There are occasions when someone might suggest that a tweak or fix to something you're working on could be done differently. If you're too rigid or not open to suggestion, the word BUT is typically used as a reason to not change anything. "I understand what you're saying, BUT doing it the way you suggest won't feel right." So you don't. People may stop giving encouragement and advice to you if they know they're only going to hear a BUT.

4. You're self worth is unhealthy. This can also be in the making excuses category. You feel the need to put yourself down because of an inner voice that says you're not good enough, smart enough, handsome enough, rich enough or thin enough. "I'd like to start doing videos on YouTube, BUT people will laugh at the way I look." So you don't.

5. You commonly have negative reactions to everything in general. The word is used to win arguments or give back-handed compliments. There is a need to offer an opinion through a passive-aggressive comment.  "You have a lovely home, BUT how can you live in this neighborhood?" Do you recognize this as something you do on a regular basis? If so, start becoming painfully aware and stop doing this before you lose friends and maybe even customers.

Is there a positive instance to use "bUT" in a sentence?

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 There are two occurrences in which the word BUT has a harmless place.

1. Using it in reverse to offer constructive criticism. The difference between being constructive and being destructive is where you place your BUT.  Let's take a look at the green light/red flag examples above spoken in reverse order.

It's hard for me to find the time BUT I know I could be a successful entrepreneur,  
I'm not too fond of the color BUT I think that dress looks amazing on you,
I'm not a very confident person BUT I would like to speak on stage,

Now you have a red flag turned into a green light.  Remember that the last half of the sentence is what you or your audience retain.

2. Using it as a teaching tool. When you are teaching someone a skill or concept, the word BUT can be used to remind them of boundaries. "Keep pedaling the bike to stay balanced, BUT remember to pedal backwards to slow down." Nothing negative is spoken, it's just a cautionary addition to the sentence.


Let's face it, all of us use the word and for the most part it's a habit. What you have to decide is if it's a habit that is beneficial or detrimental.

Start catching yourself using the word in a sentence, whether it's verbal or written.  If you've read this far, chances are you will pay closer attention or catch an instance or two of using the word. Does your BUT fit into any of the reasons above?

Don't limit your success -- use your BUTs sparingly.

I'm not a psychologist and don't claim to be one, BUT I've heard this word enough to know that students and business owners are holding themselves back and arguing for their limitations.

Thoughts or suggestions? Leave a comment below.

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