Culture Shock, Part II

Last week Nicole started off our series on organizational culture and its impact on change and transformation. As she said, small changes are the key to setting the foundation for change readiness. And a great place to start is to start putting some rigor in your meeting practices!

This week I’ll introduce another small but impactful change for you to consider.

How many times have you been in a meeting or on a conference call and heard phrases that start off like these?

“I like that idea, but I just want to add…”
“I agree with everything she said, but you should also consider…”
“I don’t mean to argue, but …”
“I’m sorry but…”

No Buts About It

Next time you hear the word “but” used like that, listen to the context. Essentially, that tiny word negates everything that came before it. (Click to Tweet.)

“I like that idea, but…” means I don’t really like it, or it’s certainly not complete without what I am about to add.

“I agree with everything she said, but…” means I don’t actually agree with everything at all!

“I don’t mean to argue, but…” means I’m about to argue.

“I’m sorry, but…” means I’m not sorry. And in fact, I’m about to shift the blame to someone or something else.

Why do people make this common mistake so frequently? In most cases, it’s a genuine attempt attempt to soften the blow. In others, it’s a passive-aggressive response designed to sound nice, while inflicting some kind of finger-pointing.

And By The Way

The easy way to fix this? Substitute “but” with “and”. Easy peasy! Now you’re giving feedback AND adding to it or changing it with clear intentions. It makes you sound better and makes the listener want to hear what you have to say.

My challenge to you? Listen for the errant “but” at meetings. And especially – listen when YOU say it. Replace it with “and” – you’ll see the difference, and so will your colleagues!

Before you know it, your organizational culture will begin to shift and become more accepting to the seeds of change. Let us know how it works! Email us at or tweet us @whiteboardcons. using #betterfastercheaper.

Until next week,