“Yeah, but…”

Posted By on April 13, 2012

People Conversing

Constructive Conversing

I was at a party recently chatting with a small group of people when a new person entered the group, listened for a moment and then said “yeah, but…” As you might imagine, the group was ever-so-slightly put off. Why? Because “Yeah, but” is language that sets up opposition.

“Yeah, but I hear “yeah but” everywhere!”

It is pretty pervasive.  On the face of it, it seems to be an easy way to contribute.  And, if opposition is your intention then “yeah but” may be an acceptable opening gambit, however you might want a more classy way to oppose such as a forthright: “I disagree with you” or “You have a point and I have another point of view which I will put forward.”

Here are some tips on how to enter a conversation in a more constructive way.

Constructive Openers:

Build on the point(s) already made.  For example:  “You make a good point, John, and I have had that experience also; and in addition I have found xxx has also been an important way to move forward.”  This type of “building on an idea” allows you to move the conversation forward. This way you are seen as furthering, rather than hijacking, the conversation.

Another option is to expand upon what has already been said. For example “You make a good point about. . . .  which reminds me of. . .” or “Reflecting on how we started this conversation, I’d like to talk about. . .” or “I’ve had the same experience that you described and found . . . . helpful”.

Here are some constructive phrases for entering a conversation:

“I’d like to expand on . . . ”

“Yes, and. . . ”

“Reflecting on what you just said. . . ”

“My own view is that”

“Many people assume that. . . ”

“On the one hand. . .  One the other hand. . . ”

“This issue is important because. . . ”

“What are your thoughts on. . . ”

“A recent (article, movie, interview, book. . .) made the point that. . . what are your thoughts on that?”

Speaking Tip: Avoid Oppositional Phrases:

“No, . .”

“But, . . .”

“Yeah, but. . .”

“Not really. . .”

“I don’t think so. . .”

“You may be right. . .”

“Don’t you think. . .”

“Don’t you know. . .”

Remember, speaking for impact is not an accident. It’s a skill.

Update: This Forbes article shares more advice on business networking: Non-Awkward Ways To Start And End Networking Conversations

Share your thoughts

Constructive professional conversation is a valuable executive speaking skill. What are your pet peeve phrases you hear in the course of professional communication? Share them in a comment to this post.


Leave a Reply