I love you but that thing you do with the yoghurt is extremely annoying… That project was brilliantly executed but the presentation was confusing… Your dress is nice but I am not sure it works with those shoes… It’s amazing how one little word can ruin it all. ‘But’. It makes you ping from positive to negative in a single syllable. Who cares if you love me when you hate the way I eat yoghurt (true story). That’s not love. If you think my delivery was confusing then I will seek alternative employment. I am burning that dress right now and we can no longer be friends. ‘But’ cancels out the good bits. ‘But’ is a bastard.
A recent piece by Jane Brody in the New York Times discusses the power of ‘but’ when it comes to sabotaging apologies. She writes, “Offering an apology is an admission of guilt that admittedly leaves people vulnerable.” But (see what we did there) adding in that but “is an excuse that counters the sincerity of the original message.” Sorry but it is so annoying to apologise. Sorry but Taboo is so confusing. Sorry but you asked for it.
So we’re offering up a humble solution as we are in a helpful mood today. Flip it. Reverse it. Do it the other way. That thing you do with the yoghurt is extremely annoying but I love you. Those shoes don’t work but your dress is nice. It is annoying to apologise but I am really sorry. See? Sometimes all you need to do to turn something around is… turn something around.