For Better Negotiations, Cut “But” from Your Vocabulary

At work, the same diversity of perspective that fuels innovation can easily derail collaboration or spark conflict. Under the pressure of deadlines and performance metrics, we drive to convince our colleagues of our point of view, and sideline anything that threatens what we feel compelled to defend.

Beneath these predictable patterns, if we’re willing to see it, is a more promising opportunity to learn from one another’s intuitions, values, and formative experiences. This is what we miss when we focus on winning rather than understanding.

If we’re tired of defensive exchanges and willing to risk a more generous and intimate connection with our coworkers, it’s worth considering changing how we approach office negotiations.

A simple approach starts by focusing on one word: “but.” It’s hard to think of a word that triggers more reactivity and drains more trust from conversation. Notice how often you hear it (and say it) when you’re negotiating or…

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This article was written by Steven Tomlinson and originally published on hbr.org