The Two But Rule isn't a panacea, and it's not a technique you can unthinkingly apply to any situation. There's a subtle art to it. It comes from understanding that what people want is never as interesting or as important as why they want it. It's essential to honor those intentions and not disregard them, even if you disagree. Without that, you can wind up with something like this: “But that's a dumb idea, BUT it wouldn't be if you threw it out and went with my idea instead.”

Or your colleague might say, “Let's go left,” and you then say, “But I don't want to go left, BUT we could go right instead!”

This doesn't help with momentum, though it is useful…in a way. The 1But doesn't tell your colleague much, just that you're opposed to going left. The 2But, at least, reveals your own intention. Now you both know that you aim to go in opposite directions. There's some utility in that. You've achieved awareness and transparency. You had a secret intention hiding in your but, and your 2But but revealed it. Good for you!

And yet, using your but this way too often will reduce the practice to a sterile technique, like wordplay without impact. It won't help you solve problems, establish rapport, and build innovative momentum.

A well-crafted but seeks to find some way to understand and advance the intentions of the other person…without glossing over your own intentions or concerns. Even a silly or fuzzy 2But that reflects the original idea can let the person know at least ...

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