But… (a Life Lesson)

So in my teaching course we’re breaking common sense down to the bare basics…

Funny enough though,  this week I actually found this useful and interesting.

We talked about how using the word “but” can effect how people interpret what we say. For example we’ve all heard, “No offense, BUT …” When you hear that, you know you’re going to be offended. Saying “No offense, BUT” doesn’t prevent an insult from being insulting.

Something like this happened to me this summer. It was my fourth year working at a summer camp, but this summer we got a new management team and I was uncomfortable with some of the changes they were making. I did my best to be  understanding and open-minded, but I can see how I might have appeared apprehensive at times.

Anyhow, during my final evaluation, I was told something like, “Hanna, you’re an awesome leader. Your program plans are always well thought out, the kids gravitate towards you and you’re always aware of potential dangers. We think you’ve done a great job. BUT… We’ve given you a poor evaluation because your communication with the office could have been improved.”

I found this statement so hypocritical! First they tell me I’m a good leader, and then they tell me my evaluation is poor. This led me to believe that all of the buffer compliments weren’t genuine.

Looking back on the experience, I realize that the same information could have been delivered in a much more effective way had they switched the order of statements on either side of the “but.” For example, they could have said, “Hanna, We’ve given you a poor evaluation because your communication with the office could have been better, but having said that, we still appreciate that you’re an awesome leader… etc.” This way, the constructive criticism could’ve been delivered directly, and the compliments would’ve seemed more genuine.

It’s really interesting to think that something as simple as reordering two ideas in a sentence can alter its meaning so significantly. It’s important to be aware of these little tricks, since they’re such easy way in which we can convey information clearly without sounding rude.

So yeah… Thanks for reading this latest installment of Subjective and Unqualified Life Lessons with Hanna.


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