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  • Writer's pictureHelen Frewin

Drop the But

You're good at your job... but...

This workshop has been great... but...

You're a lovely person... but...


I've been saying this in workshops and coaching sessions for as long as I can remember, so I'm surprised that in the past month it seems like I'm saying it more than ever!

One of the common questions following the release of Better Than Confidence last year, has been how to use the thinking tools in difficult conversations. Whilst there are suggestions in the book, it’s always the way that if we call something “difficult,” then it’s likely we will find more challenges, even in the face of useful ideas. We might read a whole book on having such conversations and still feel uncomfortable.

And maybe that discomfort is part of the journey we need to accept, whilst choosing our words carefully is an opportunity to make the conversation so much better.

Everything before a but is perceived as a lie.

Rather than being viewed as insincere, we can give balanced feedback by exploring fully what is good and exploring fully what can be improved.

Replace the word "but" with the word "and."

Or a full stop.

"You're good at ABC and you could improve further on XYZ."

“I thought your presentation was clear and very well structured. You also had a strong call to action at the end. It would be even better if next time you could have less information on the slides, as I found I got distracted reading the small print.”

Imagine the difference it could make, to be equally sincere and detailed about what is working well and what could be improved.

How might that make you feel more confident and comfortable giving feedback?

And how might that build the other person’s confidence too?

Let me know how you get on!

Best wishes,



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