The Power of And, But, and Because


Some words pack a powerful punch in how they affect the message from all the other words strung together before or after them. What are these words? They’re usually the conjunctions like and, but, and or. For Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers who grew up on Schoolhouse Rock, you probably have a little song playing in your head right now.

Conjunction Junction, what’s their function?
I got “and”, “but”, and “or”,
They’ll get you pretty far.

Although our body language and tone of voice are major influencers in how we communicate, choices in simple words can change the message. You should be sensitive to use the right one for the right intent. My favorite conjunctions are and, but, and because, and each provides a very different message.

And is the connector that keeps the conversation going and the ideas building. You’ll see the masters of improv exclusively use this word to allow the following person to continue with the next idea. If frequency were an indication of people’s favorite conjuntion, I would guess it would be but. “I hear what you’re saying, but…..” or “I like your idea, but…” But is the perfect word to negate everything that was said before it. Sometimes I don’t think people even realize what that one little word does to the previous speaker. And then there’s the conjunction because.

Whereas and keeps the conversation going, and but invalidates the idea before it, because blends the power of the and with an assumption of action. What are your thoughts of each message?

  1. “I like your idea about forming a small task force to address the problems with the manufacturing process, but I think it’ll take too long to get all the people who have expertise in the same room at the same time.”
  2. “I like your idea about forming a small task force to address the problems with the manufacturing process, and we’ll need to consider how long it will take to get all the people who have expertise in the same room at the same time.”
  3. “I like your idea about forming a small task force to address the problems with the manufacturing process, because we have the expertise. We’ll need to get all these people in the same room at the same time.”

Most people don’t pay much attention to their conjunctions. How about you? Hopefully, you might be more selective in your next conversation.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life stories. She administers assessments, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at

11 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Say at Work

words out of mouthDr. Travis Bradberry published the article The 11 Things Smart People Won’t Say (2015), where he listed and described why smart people refrain from using certain phrases in the workplace, because these words diminish others’ perception of them. Unfortunately, many employees may not be aware of the negative impact of these sentences or whether they are using them in conversation around the office. For those who may have overlooked this article, I list those words that can undermine the most knowledgeable, talented, and productive employees who use them.

  • It’s not fair.
  • This is the way it’s always been done.
  • No problem.
  • I think …/This may be a silly idea …/I’m going to ask a stupid question.
  • This will only take a minute.
  • I’ll try.
  • He’s lazy/incompetent/a jerk.
  • That’s not in my job description.
  • It’s not my fault.
  • I can’t.
  • I hate this job.

words out of mouth 2Some of these phrases are obvious in their abrasiveness; whereas, others are subtle. A response of “No problem,” as opposed to a kindly “You’re welcome,” or “My pleasure,” commonly heard from a Chick-Fil-A associate, can be more of an annoyance than a negative message. In my opinion, this list of “do-nots” are not what smart people practice but what emotionally intelligent people embrace, as I know several Mensa candidates with low emotional intelligence who continually choose from this list. Emotionally steady and astute employees carefully choose their words. Dr. Bradberry’s article begs the question, “What are the 11 things emotionally intellegient employees say at work?” What words do they use that promote creative thinking, problem-solving, accountability, and team-building?

Below would be my suggested words to frame conversation that builds a positive perception of your attitude and behaviors and empowers the organization.

  • How could we have changed the outcome?
  • What new way can we try?
  • You’re welcome!
  • Based on…observation, data, past experiences…I found…
  • When can I get [insert number] uninterrupted minutes of your time?
  • I will.
  • How can we make him/her more successful?
  • What can I do to help?
  • I take responsibility for…
  • I can.
  • What I like about my job is…

Where do your word choices land on the continuum of powerfully engaging to poorly enacted? Many factors, including stress and cultural influence, dictated where we are on this continuum in any moment. When stress is high, the filter between thoughts and words is usually thin. Stress does not absolve us of the responsibility to choose words wisely, and awareness of the powerful effect of certain words is the first step towards better choices that will show your personal best.


Bradberry, T. (2015). Eleven things smart people won’t say.  Retrieved from

HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.