Communication Exercise: But No But

Communication Exercise: But No But


The aim of this activity is to raise awareness to the importance of constructive feedback. This exercise also shows how small changes in the use of words can make a big difference on how our suggestion or comment is perceived by others.


Participants have to give a feedback with and without the use of word “But”.


  • Split the group into pairs.
  • Each participant then has thirty seconds to comment on the importance of other person’s contribution within the company and the way it can be improved. The participants have to use the word “But” in their sentence. For example:
“I admire how you consult others when making important sale decisions but it would be better if we organise meetings for such discussions.”
  • Each participant then has to repeat their comment but this time they have to replace the word “but” with “and”. For example: 

“I admire how you consult others when making important sale decisions and it would better if we had organised meetings for such discussions.”


Explaining the Test: 5 minutes.

Activity: 5 minutes

Group Feedback: 20 minutes.


Discuss with the group the importance of using positive language when giving feedbacks. How the two feedbacks were different from each other? Did they have the same effect? How does using “but” instead of “and” changes the way the comment or feedback is received? Do you feel offended, criticised or undermined when someone uses “but”?




rahul kumar

By rahul kumar @ Monday, February 2, 2009 5:48 PM

Yes, it is right to say "and" instead of "but". I agree with this.

Eoin Mc Carthy

By Eoin Mc Carthy @ Thursday, June 17, 2010 12:04 AM

Has anyone heard the expression 'the but sandwich'? Using the word 'but' effectively negates all that preceded it. Can anyone give me a few 'softer' alternatives to the word 'but'? I often say 'that said'. Its not great 'that said' it is a little bit softer than 'but'.

Norizan Aziz

By Norizan Aziz @ Tuesday, August 24, 2010 6:40 AM

Rather than using but or and you may want to try these; I like the way you present this "in addition you may consider" to include more pictures with less wordings.....

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