By Alan Graner
“But” is like a slap in the face, a punch to your solar plexus. It sets you up, then slams you to the ground. Four-letter words may be gross, but this three-letter beauty is just plain cruel.
“I really like you Charlie. You’re a great guy…BUT…I don’t think we should see each other anymore.”
“I’ve read your resume, Phillips, and it’s really impressive…BUT!…I’m afraid we’ve found someone a little more qualified.”
The true meaning of “but”
“But” negates the words that precede it:
“I wish I could give you a raise, BUT….”
“This is one of the best ideas I’ve seen in a long time, BUT….”
As you can see, those words have no real meaning. They only exist to tease you, to torture you, to give you a false feeling of hope before your terrible spiral into hell.
So conditioned are we to the evil presence of “but” that as soon as someone begins praising us or buttering us up, we immediately ask, “There’s a ‘but’ coming, isn’t there?”
The speaker may say there’s no but. But that’s only because there are…
Other cruel words
“But” isn’t alone. Oh no, it has relatives. Mean, nasty relatives. Perhaps you’ve heard of them:
“We would like to hire your firm; HOWEVER, you’ll have to drop your fees 30%.”
“You’ve done a terrific job; NEVERTHELESS I’m afraid we’ll have to let you go.”
“EVEN THOUGH your prices are the lowest, we’re going with your competitors.”
“You make a persuasive argument to buy your product. ALL THE SAME, I think we’ll keep our current vendor.”
“Your office has the best sales record in the region. BE THAT AS IT MAY….”
“It’s true your product is twice as fast as your competition. EVEN SO….”
The Good news/bad news variation
In this instance “but” means you can have what you want…at a price.
“Yes, we can deliver your prototype in 24 hours…BUT!…the rush charges will double the cost.”
“You got the promotion…BUT!…you’ll have to transfer to the home office on Omaha.”
“We would have hired your company…BUT!…we didn’t know you also did this.”
And so the other shoe drops.
If you’ve been the “but” of life, now is your time to rant.
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA marketing communications firm. For a public relations campaign that makes you stick out from the crowd, email Jeffrey Swartz at email@example.com. Or visit www.dsprel.com.