“BUT wait! There’s more!” “I agree with everything you say Senator, BUT… .” “There is significant truth in what you say, BUT… .” “No, really, you look stunning in that color, BUT… .” “I’ve always been one of your greatest supporters, BUT… .” “This is obviously the best option to meet our goals, BUT… .”
BUT! BUT! BUT! BUT! BUT! Doesn’t that word just make you want to kick some people in the, a, er, BUTT!?!
BUT can signify an agreeable disagreeability. It signals “You’ve missed something.” It implies a lack of consideration of extraneous observations, facts, circumstances. Or, it can be a curt interruption that subtly, or not so subtly, counters your ideas with mine— “Yes, BUT… .” Which is a polite manner of saying, “You are so wrong I can’t believe it!” or “How can you be so stupid!?!” “Now listen to what I have to say!”
The problem is that we can be so far into formulating our BUT, our counterpoint, our objections, that we often fail to fully listen to the other person’s presentation.
Why is that?
Set forth somewhat callously, we have to WIN. No matter how reasonable or thoroughly developed the other person’s point of view, WE have to be the one who is not only right, BUT more right. So we rudely interrupt, speak LOUDER, use ad hominem (go on the attack), or slander through innuendo. Granted, genuine disagreements DO exist between people, businesses, and governments. BUT in an attempt to be more right, we rarely listen to the rationale and heart-felt beliefs undergirding someone else’s perspective. WINNING has supplanted listening as the modus operandi. Far be it from most of us to take the lower seat and listen to the opposition’s case. And the thought of being gracious in the heat of argument obviously reveals weakness. Much easier to be rude and interrupt.
Seriously, in what ways does WINNING against the opposition trump careful listening and reconciliation? It is true that some things are worth fighting for. BUT at the expense of human decency and graciousness!?! I pray not. [Most of us do not have that nice a butt to begin with, anyway.]
So help us God.