How to Disagree Without Inviting Resentment

A Little Word With Big Consequences

Have you ever met someone who just seemed to end your every thought with “but?” It starts to get annoying, right? It feels like nothing you say is valid, because they know better.

How to disagree with your spouse

It seems that in our society every other sentence contains the word ‘but’. The other person says something, and we soon follow with a big ‘but.’ Beware, though. ‘But’ is a little word with big consequences.

It works to delete everything the other person has just said, and sets you apart. It builds resentment. The solution is pretty simple, although it doesn’t come naturally to us. We are simply not used to talking this way.

Replace the ‘But’ with ‘And’

If you’re using the buts often, try this. Instead of using ‘but’, just replace it with, “Yes, and …”

The structure is as follows:

  • “Yes, (find a point that agrees with what was just said), AND (at the same time)” state how you stand.
  • Alternatively use: “Yes, and in addition to that …”

Example:

  • “A child that age should not have a mobile phone.”
  • Possible response: “Yes,” and an agreeing response, such as “that is not how we were raised.” Then add your other thought: “AND at the same time it would help us know where he is if something happens.”

It Does Not Mean You Agree

Saying, “Yes, and …” does NOT mean that you agree with what was just said. You don’t have to. It’s not about agreeing or not agreeing.

It’s about acknowledging that your partner has just said something that you might or might not agree with, AND at the same time expressing your own opinion.

It feels awkward at first, because we’re not used to doing it.

Your Turn

For the next couple of days, pay attention when ‘but’ sneaks into a conversation. Then, start replacing your buts with “Yes, and …”

It will not go unnoticed.

QUESTION: How often are you using the buts? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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