I like her, but she can be a little crazy. He made a nice movie, but it was really long. I’d love to come over, but I have so much to do this afternoon. He is cute, but he’s a little disheveled. I love you, but you’re driving me crazy!
Suddenly it seems that we’re all connoisseurs on everything and everyone. Every movie, person, meal, sunny day, animal, you name it, is up for deliberate evaluation. No longer do we say, “I liked that!” or “I didn’t like that!” Now we pick apart anything we experience and decide and explain the pros and cons of whatever or whoever it is. Whatever happened to being someone’s champion? Why is it so difficult to be all in, completely for someone?
Not too long ago, an old friend of mine asked me about the guy I was seeing. I gave her a long lists of ‘He’s great, but…’s.’ She looked at me and said, “it doesn’t sound like you like him too much.” I said, “Oh, no! I like him, it’s just that…” By the time I finished my sentence, I realized what was going on. I shrugged and admitted that I probably wasn’t too into him.
Later on, I thought about this conversation alot. I started noticing all the people around me who were making the same concessions when they offered an opinion on people, especially their friends. I’d catch myself doing it too. It’s a total downer. There isn’t a time I can think of when the formula of “positive + but + negative” equaled a nice feeling. It’s just a glazed over, nicer-seeming piece of gossip.
So I’ve started making a change, a small switch of words. I substituted the word ‘and’ for the word ‘but.’ It makes a big difference. Instead of taking away from the statement about someone or something you like, it just adds to it. My next detail isn’t a takeaway it’s a bonus.
For instance, take these examples, and fill in the blank with the word ‘but’ and then with the word ‘and’:
She is a great person, ___ she’s going through a lot right now.
He is so much fun, ____ you never know what’s going to come out of his mouth.
She is awesome, ____ she prefers to stay at home most of the time.
He is cute, ____ he is mismatched everytime I see him.
When ‘and’ is the filler, I feel like it’s just more to love about the person. Like whatever that little idiosyncracy that comes next is just an endearing quality that is part of the reason we like him so much.
It’s the best thing you can do for friends who you’re talking about in their absense and for friends who are there to hear you talk. It puts a positive spin on the conversation, and it lets whoever you’re with have the comfort of knowing that you aren’t judging their every move. When we take away the concessions we say to ourselves and others that we can love and accept things as they are, in their entirety. We know that every part of a compostion contributes make it great, the high notes and the low ones alike. It’s also great because when you get in the habit of thinking this way about the people and things around you, you start applying the mindset to how you think about yourself too.