How Big is Your BUT?

Are You a Trustbuster?

The words we use and the way we use them tell the world a great deal about whom we really are, what we really mean to say and whether we’re to be trusted or busted.

Avoid these trustbusting traps:

  1. The Status Changer: Interjecting terms and phrases like, “Can we talk here” suggests that the speaker is awarding the listener a change in status, welcoming him or her into an inner circle of openness. Designed to bring us closer, the practice often puts us on guard because we were not aware we’d been on the outside to begin with.
  2. The Revealer: Be on the lookout for people that say, “To be honest with you”, “To tell you the truth”, “Truthfully”, “Honestly” or “Frankly”. Use of these phrases leave us rightly wondering… weren’t you being honest with me all along? Should I only consider what you say as truthful if you’ve specifically labeled it as honest?
  3. The Gut Puncher (Conjunctive & Extended Conditionality): The granddaddy of trustbusters is the hidden conjunctive whammy that links a positive or otherwise complimentary comment with the term BUT…followed by the real, less positive and generally less complimentary part of the message. While the comment may be factual, BUT-like presentations leave us wary of the speaker. We sense the emergence of a BUT long before it’s uttered, and stop listening to steady ourselves for the inevitable.

Extended-Conditional Gut Punchers use complete statements and then land their blows after the fact. You’ll know you’ve been Gut Punched when the new sentence starts with terms like Actually or However to frame out their real message.

I know all of our readers are honest to the core BUT I want to help keep you on the lookout for others with less integrity. Actually, to tell you the truth, I’d love to know how many trustbusters you mentally nab this weekend.

As always, I invite you to share your experiences and comments with me directly at

Stay connected,