3 Simple Steps to More Effective Communication

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Communication is the essential key to every relationship, whether personal or professional. Knowing how critical effective communication is means we can all stand to improve our communication skills. Here are 3 simple, yet profound, ways to do just that.

  1. Get rid of BUT

I agree … BUT

I see your point … BUT

I would like to help … BUT

I hate to ask.. BUT

  • BUT negates any attempt to show you are in agreement, are on the same side, or can work together
  • It focuses the message on the negative
  • It can lead to more confrontation, anger, and defensiveness
  • It takes away from any effort for collaboration or open discussion

(the same goes for however, yet, or any term that shows this contradiction)

Replace with AND

I agree … AND I also see things this way

I see you point … AND I see how we could make these changes

I would like to help … AND I am busy then

  • It will take practice to replace our BUTs with ANDs
  • It may sound weird or odd at first to hold these contradictions in your mind
  • Try rehearsing in your head and out loud

Make AND a new mantra and see how much easier it becomes to talk with others!

We can also use in our own self-talk, which is often critical. For instance:

I need to do better

I am not trying hard enough

I am not successful enough

This sets us up to feel bad and defeated. Instead try:

  • I am doing my best AND I can do better
  • I am trying hard AND I can try harder


2. Turn SHOULDS into WANTS

When we say we SHOULD do something, it implies we feel it is good for us or the right thing to do, BUT we are not that motivated or interested in doing it.

When we WANT to do something, we know it is good and right and we are motivated to do it.


I SHOULD do my expense reports  —– I WANT to finish my expense reports because I need them to get paid

I SHOULD exercise/eat healthy —– I WANT to exercise/eat healthy because I plan to live a long, healthy, active life


Turning SHOULDS into WANTS reframes our actions and makes them priorities. Try it and see your motivation change. You will no longer be putting off or dreading tasks, but rather embracing them.


3. Get into the WISE state of mind before having those difficult conversations


The WISE mind is where

  • we are open to the views and ideas of others (even if we do not agree)
  • we are ready to really listen (not listen with our reply already in mind- but true, non-judgmental listening)
  • We are not overly emotional (sad, angry, frustrated)
  •  We have empathy and respect for the other person (again, even if we do not agree, we are able to see their side and understand their issues/struggles)


Being in a WISE state of mind before entering into difficult conversations will reduce conflict and enhance relationships. If you struggle to keep emotions or heated opinions to yourself, focus on actively listening. This single task alone will make a huge impact in a conflict/difficult situation.