When I watch political debates, I study the choice of words many times more than the overall content. I have written in previous blog articles how the word “but” usually negates the statement that precedes it. I noticed last Sunday night while watching the Presidential Debate, the word “but” was used quite often. I checked the transcript this morning, and I see that in the 2 hour debate, there were 123 “buts.”

My best example of a statement being negated by a “but” is “I am not a racist, but…” However, last night’s debate quite a few which were very telling of the speaker’s intentions.

Here are a few of the 123, this article is not aimed at either of the candidates, and they were equally as prolific in the use of the word. This is neither an endorsement nor a condemnation of either of the candidates.

I cannot believe I’m saying that about myself, but

“I apologize to the American people. Certainly I’m not proud of it. But

“I’m not making any excuses. It was a mistake. And I am very sorry about that. But

“Yes, I’m very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But

“Premiums have gotten too high. Copays, deductibles, prescription drug costs, and I’ve laid out a series of actions that we can take to try to get those costs down. But

“I’ve said things that, frankly, you hear these things I said. And I was embarrassed by it. But

“So I want very much to save what works and is good about the Affordable Care Act. But

And I’ll tell you what. I didn’t think I’d say this, but

“We’ve got to provide additional help to small businesses so that they can afford to provide health insurance. But

So I want us to get to 100 percent, but

So let’s fix what’s broken about it, but

“Well, first of all, I will not let anyone into our country that I think poses a risk to us. But

I pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. But… — but

I’m sorry I have to keep saying this, but

And I think it’s been unfortunate, but

“No, but I pay tax, and I pay federal tax, too. But

I’ve been in favor of getting rid of carried interest for years, starting when I was a senator from New York. But

“When I was secretary of state, I went around the world advocating for our country, but

“So I would go to the negotiating table with more leverage than we have now. But

I hate to interrupt you, but

I don’t like Assad at all, but

“I hope that they will see their way to doing it, but

I respect the Second Amendment. But

I’m all for alternative forms of energy, including wind, including solar, et cetera. But

We are not dependent upon the Middle East. But …

So I have a comprehensive energy policy, but


The next time you are speaking, and you feel to need to end a phrase with a “but,” just pause, and start a new statement.

Communication skills are an important element in successful leadership. For more information on developing your communications, leadership, and time management skills, contact Lyon Strategic Consulting, LLC at info@lyonsc.com, (424) 265-9598 or http://lyonsc.com/contact-us/

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Stop Giving or Accepting Excuses
Words & Phrases That Make My Ears Burn

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