Imagine a co-worker or customer is offering you some ideas on how to solve a challenging situation. You respond with, “that’s a good idea, BUT, it will be hard to do.” Alternatively, you say “that’s a good idea, AND it will be hard to do.” For me the use of AND is an invitation to mutually solve the problem and a powerful tool for leaders. Using AND acknowledges each person’s interests as legitimate and creates an environment for positive dialogue and creativity. BUT is the magic eraser word that is highly effective at avoiding acknowledgement of the another’s idea and quickly disconnects what follows from what came before.

“I know what you mean, BUT . . .”

“That might work here, BUT . . .”

AND these statements easily become:

“I know what you mean, AND…”

“That might work here, AND…”

AND communicates a more inclusive, acknowledging and open minded viewpoint stimulating inquiry by all. The best part about AND, is the path it creates in fostering alignment (i.e. convincing others and yourself).

Honest organization must be the same company to its employees as to its customers, partners, clients. This means for me that AND is about moving beyond gathering authority and control (i.e. using the de-powering impact of BUT) to creating an environment of working together (i.e. empowering all through AND), with a culture that encourages participation. ​

As each of us leads at work and at home, try substituting AND over BUT. Watch opportunities for collaboration and novel solutions emerge. AND is one small word that can make a big difference in the way we all think, lead and be.​

Curator of urban experiences, proponent of mindful leadership AND President, CEO of EQ Office

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