Conjunctions make a difference!
To ‘and’ or ‘but’ that is the question
whether it benefits your argument to battle
your audience with ‘ but’
or use ‘and’ and join your ideas with theirs?
What I am referring to is psycholinguistics, how words impact our brains and thus our emotional reaction to what is being said.
How often have we heard this used and more importantly used it to get our point of view across. ‘But’ is always heard as a call to battle, active listening goes out the window, the conversation quickly reduces to a series of ‘yes but’ statements, and no one is open to being influenced by the other.
Can you feel the difference in just reading those two words? ‘And’ as a conjunction joins two positions, it infers one idea building on another and is experienced emotionally in a positive way. We focus our attention on what is being said, ‘and’ increases our listening and keeps us actively in the conversation in a collaborative way.
As (grand)parents it is our job to influence our children to engage them in a collaborative process where they learn from us and through their own experiences. They will take the information they have received from us and put it into action and they will make errors - mistakes will be made. To keep our children engaged and feeling good about themselves it is important that we use ‘and’ instead of ‘but’.
Example: A mother tells her daughter that she is old enough to pick out her own cloths for school. Her daughter comes out wearing cloths that are inappropriate consider the following two responses.
- Emily I told you, you could pick out your own clothing but that is not appropriate please go back and but on …
- Emily I told you, you could pick out your own clothing and that is not appropriate please go back and but on …
In the first example Emily is alone in having made the error and in the second her mother has joined with her in the error they remain together in the learning experience.
Test this yourself the next time you are about to say ‘but’ use ‘and’ instead and see if it changes the conversation, if it strengthens your position.