“Yes…but” is a common phrase used by many people, however, it should readily be avoided. This phrase is often used to help make criticism sound more palatable. However, as it is used so frequently it often has an adverse reaction. Many of us switch off as soon as we hear these two words. “Yes…but” also gives the impression that a person is not truly listening. It sounds like they are dismissing what you are saying before you have even said it. Someone who is truly attentive to what you are saying will listen first and save their opinion for later.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways this phrase is used:
The break up
When you are in a relationship you may find yourself asking your partner: Are we good together? The last thing that you would like to hear is: “Yes…but.” If you get this reaction you are likely to assume that your partner finds faults in your relationship and is not entirely sure that you should be together.
The backhanded compliment
Many of you will at some point ask people for reassurance. For example, you may ask our friend: Do I look good? If your friend replies: “Yes…but,” you are likely to take this as a no. You may feel that they do not entirely approve of the way you look but are just saying yes to be polite. The “but” implies that they see something they do not like in the way you look.
The invitation refusal
When you host a party or simply have a few friends around for drinks you will ask them: Would you like to come? If you get the response “Yes…but” you are likely to take this as an excuse. It may seem to you like your friend is trying to get out of coming to your event.
Ask for assistance
Often you reach out and ask someone for help. If you ask: “Can you please help me?” and are met by the response: “Yes…but” you are likely to be offended. You are likely to take this as a no and feel like the person who you have asked for assistance does not really want to help. Stating yes at the beginning does not make the refusal to help sound any better.
Lack of support
You may find that sometimes you seek out reassurance and support from friends or family. You may ask them: Aren’t I right? The last thing you want to hear is: “Yes…but.” If you hear this phrase you may think that the person who uttered it does not want to back you up and support you.
Lack of approval
You tend to go about your daily chores independently but sometimes you would like to know if you are doing a good job. You ask the question: Am I doing a good job? Someone responds: “Yes…but.” This is obviously not the answer you were looking for. You were in search of approval and instead you got a disguised lecture.
You may go out on a limb and ask someone: Would you like to join me? If you get the answer: “Yes…but” you are likely to feel rejected. You may assume that they are trying to get out of joining you and are simply saying yes to cover it up.
Lack of sympathy
You may not be feeling well and notice that your partner or friend does not seem to be as concerned or sympathetic as you expected them to be. You confront them: Aren’t you worried? They answer: “Yes…but” and immediately you feel like they are not truly concerned.
Lack of enthusiasm about your success
You achieve a momentous goal or do something you are really proud of achieving. You find that your friend does not seem to be very enthusiastic about your success. You ask them: Aren’t you happy for me? You hear the words: “Yes…but” and you immediately feel that your suspicions were correct. You conclude they are not genuinely happy and are just saying the yes bit to be nice; the “but” part is all that really counts.
The disguised put down
Sometimes people use the phrase “Yes…but” to disguise their criticism. For example, you may ask someone if you are doing a good job and they reply: “Yes…but”. In truth what they are saying is no but they are simply saying it in a way that makes their put down less obvious. In short, “Yes…but” is a phrase that should fiercely be avoided. It is often interpreted negatively and leaves the person who hears these words feeling badly.
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