“Big Buts” are very obnoxious. They are not very flattering or glamorous. Certainly I’ve made more than my share of “Big Buts” during my life so I can speak from experience. No, this column isn’t about large posteriors or losing weight.

“That’s a good idea, but…” “That’s an interesting thought, but…” “Your report was fine, but…” Have you heard any of these statements before? Maybe you were the person saying them! Either way, the “but” in each phrase causes a problem because it cancels out the good things that precede it. When people hear the word “but” in a sentence, it’s telling them to discount whatever came before it and pay attention to what follows. Instead of using the word “but," try using the word “and." As an example: “That’s an interesting thought and here’s something else to think about.”

The word “but” can also cause a problem when it is used to make an excuse for something you didn’t do. For example: “I would have returned your phone call, but…”

This is merely an excuse that communicates either the person or the phone call you should have returned wasn’t important (at least to you).

On the topic of excuses, Bob Carter said “Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency for me.” That puts excuses into perspective. It simply says don’t make excuses take action.

We all have the same amount of time in a day. Only deceased people have no time and only those living can say, “I don’t have time.” Does that make sense? Certainly most would answer “no," so let’s stop making excuses for poor use of time or poor planning.

A much better way to handle the earlier example of a missed phone call is to say, “I’m sorry I didn’t call you. I wasn’t watching the time so I didn’t get it done.”

Unlike the first response, this is an honest statement that communicates you’re taking ownership for not returning the call. It sounds better and is definitely more honest.

So when you find yourself using “but” in a way that discounts what others have said, or to make an excuse, change your approach and focus on your words. A simple word like “and” can make such a big difference. If you are using “and” more than “but," keep doing so. Why? Because you’re building connections to the hearts of others.

If you are using ”but” more than “and,” remember that you’re letting it get in the way of your progress and growth. Lose the “Big Buts” because they create barriers which keep us from moving forward to getting where we need to go.

Think about it…