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“Yes, but…”

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

There is a “Yes, but…” that could be added to any sentence you write.

Here’s an example:

You may write something like “Work hard, do your best, and things will work out.”

Well, to that we can easily add “Yes, but…I have a friend who worked hard, did his best, and really ended up in a bad spot. Things still haven’t worked out for him.”

Your sentence about working hard still has value, but so does the observation about the guy who ended up in a bad spot.

Send me a sentence and I can send you a “Yes, but…” rebuttal in half the amount of time it took you to write your sentence.

There’s always room for one more bit of nuance. You can end your essay or your story with a single sentence, but you can never end the possibility of someone seeing it in a different way. The end of a sentence can never reach the end of human understanding.

If you ever choose to write something, it’s quite likely that someone will greet you with a “Yes, but…” followed by their own point of view.

No matter how much you tiptoe your way through it, someone out there is going to do it.

The anticipation of this can feel paralyzing at times.

Yes, but…write the sentence anyway.

The biggest mistake you could make as a writer would be the one where you refuse to start a conversation merely because you’re afraid your words won’t be the ones to end the conversation.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. TK – great to find your blog! This post reminded me of advice I received from a business development rep that I’ve applied ever since: change the ‘but’ to an ‘and’. It’s borrowing from improv.

    In practice, the same intention can be shared and the reframe helps adjust the intention from what’s often perceived as detraction to an additional consideration. I’ve found it helps me reconsider why I’m even sharing the ‘but’ part of the story.

    What do you do to move away from the ‘yes, but’?

    1. I love your thoughts here, Jen.

      When I receive the occasional “yes, but…” I try to pause and see what I can learn from it. Then I move forward.

      Sometimes, I’m positively challenged/changed by the “yes, but…” and sometimes I’m not.

      For me, the biggest challenge is the “yes, but…” that you hear inside your own head before writing a single sentence. That can easily stop you from moving forward. By reminding myself that there will always be a “yes, but…” and that it’s okay, I maintain the courage to keep using my voice.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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