Escaping the “But” Cycle

On Wednesday mornings I go to Coach Joan‘s Career Café; it is a supportive place where I gain insights into my own behaviors and how they are either aiding or slowing my job search. Like many who work with people I am far more adept at helping other folk to create change in their life than I am at taking a good hard look at myself so I appreciate this opportunity to reflect on my stuff in a “safe place”.

Today though I had an opportunity to pass on a little insight in a digestible way – that is after all what I do. I was listening to the conversations around the table and there was a general air of defensiveness. How do I qualify this? In one word, “but”.

As a job seeker I am guilty as charged. That little, three letter word sneaks into my conversation and literally smacks people around the head saying, “run away, unless you want an unhealthy dose of negativity.” I do not know of many other words that are quite as destructive and certainly if you are in an interview situation it is wise to think about it’s impact.

What I asked the group to do is an old improv game and I encourage you to find a few friends and do the same.

Have someone start with a short statement, ours was “Oprah is the best talk show host”. Now, in round robin order people follow on from the previous statement starting with the words “yes… but”. It is important to keep this quick fire. After a few minutes adapt the game with each person now starting with “yes… and”.

Do you notice that the energy levels go up in the group when the word “but” is replaced by “and”? Why is this? Does it happen in other situations? Why does it happen and how can we use this information in our daily dealings with people?

If you need more convincing go into an elementary school yard and watch the younger children play.

“I am going to be a spaceman.” “Yes and I am going to be a scuba diver.” Look how the kids interact with each other and the energy they create.

Everyone left the café laughing today and they left thinking and they will change their behavior and they will benefit from it.

Games rule, “buts” stink.

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