The Genius of And

 In Blog

I learned a valuable coaching lesson from hilarious air talent and voiceover master Jack Murphy. In a workshop at WKZL Greensboro, I complimented Jack on a bit he did on his morning show. He immediately said, “OK, BUT?”

He expected me to follow the compliment with the word “but” and what I didn’t like about the bit. From that day forward, I vowed never to mix compliments and constructive feedback with “but.”

But negates or cancels what precedes it. The talent or employee will forget the compliment and only remember what came after “but.”

The genius of AND

“But” excludes the positive feedback and emphasizes the negative while “and” opens a window of opportunity for acknowledging both issues by including what precedes it.

Saying to a talent, “I like the interaction of the feature at 7:20, BUT I didn’t like how you set it up,” negates the compliment. A more inclusive way of giving feedback would be to say, “I like the interaction of the feature at 7:20, AND let’s discuss how the setup could be improved.”

In the landmark business book Built to Last, authors Jim Collins and Jerry Porras outlined how visionary companies reject what they termed the “Tyranny of OR” and embrace the Genius of the AND. Instead of choosing between A and B, they figure out how to have both A and B.

The authors explained how great companies simultaneously embrace both extremes across several dimensions—purpose and profit, continuity and change, discipline and creativity, etc.

Real-world situations:

Practice replacing but and or with “and” in your daily life with family, friends, and coworkers. Your relationships will improve in your personal and professional lives.

  • “I want to have integrity, BUT I want to make more money” implies you can’t have integrity and make money. …versus… “I want to have integrity, AND I want to make more money.” Now you’re open to both coexisting.
  • “I want to work out, BUT I’m tired,” says you won’t work out because you’re tired.…versus…” I’m tired, AND I want to work out.” This statement allows you to work out even though you’re tired.
  • “Yes, I would like to resolve this, but we’re not progressing.” This means: “So, we can’t resolve this.” “Yes, I would like to resolve this, AND we’re not making any progress” implies we may need another approach.

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.