When I was a freshman in college, my life was cheer. I did cheer breakfast lunch and dinner and loved it. I was committed to a level that generally exceeded most interests on the team. Not saying the team wasn’t committed, I just took it too far.

I was often very convinced of my own correctness. I would have conversations about issues with stunts and always have something to add. I’m not saying I wouldn’t listen to other people’s perspectives, but I always had to add my own two cents:

other cheerleader: I think the stunt came down because the feet were too far forward
me: That sounds right, but I’m pretty sure that is because you we weren’t on the right timing.

During my sophomore year in college, I had a coach who explained it to me. The problem with my communication was the word “but”. Using it made it sound like I wasn’t hearing the discussion from the other person. What my teammates had been hearing was “but … you are wrong and I’m right.” Sometimes, I felt this way, but nearly as much as I was communicating.

My coach asked me to try and stop using the word “but”. He suggested I use the word “however”, or pause where I would have said but.

This was 20+ years ago, so my memory may be foggy, but I recall this being pretty hard for me to change. Still, it had a pretty profound effect on my relationships with my teammates, and my ability to communicate and be heard.

It’s still something I’m sensitive to it today and impart the same advice to people when I catch them “but-ting” me.