When you say something and then say the word ‘but’ it means “everything I just said I don’t mean. It’s one of the most common communication problems that we encounter every day.
“You are a great employee but we have an issue with you getting your reports in on time.”
“That is a great idea but what we’re looking for is a faster solution.”
“I really love you but…” Everyone has heard that one at some point!
Here’s the solution. Instead of using the word ‘but’, use the word ‘and’. Or, just make two statements.
You are a great employee. One thing to improve your performance would be to get those reports in on time. What can we do to support that? What that does is make a compliment a compliment. It’s not conditional but authentic. Then, acknowledge an issue with performance and see what can be done to support the employee. Maybe things are ‘out of whack’ in the department. Maybe there is a bigger problem that needs attention.
Let’s look at the other examples:
“That is a great idea but…” really means “yeah, yeah let’s just get on with it because that’s not the direction we’re taking”. Try it this way: “That is a great idea. It may take too long to implement. Let’s take a look at a solution that we can get to faster.”
And finally, “I love you and you look amazing in that outfit.”
Don’t give a compliment and then snatch it away before you add your next comment. It’s not kind and it’s not authentic. And, everyone knows what you are doing, so it’s not effective either.