Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

You might think I should get out more, but it's a valuable point.

Don't be misled by people who say never use but in your writing. It's too sweeping and you might be missing out on a very handy device.

They say 'but' is negative and anything before the but is just filler.

They do have a point if the boss sits an employee down and says, 'I really like the way you turn up to work on time and tidy your desk at the end of the day, but your thinking and writing skills are far below what we need in this organisation.' The filler before the but just softens him up for the king hit.

But, here's why it's such a useful word...

You can use it to create a contrast. You could write, 'You might be expecting it to be expensive, but it's not' or 'We expected him to finish the project late, but he delivered it a week early.' There's no filling or demoralising zinger at the end.

Orators have used contrasts since at least the time of the Romans. Here's President John F Kennedy beginning his inaugural speech: 'We observe today, not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom.' It's a powerful contrast.

Barack Obama speaking of meeting the challenges ahead: 'They will not be met easily, or in a short span of time. But know this America: - they will be met'. Followed by a burst of applause -as usual with contrasts.

Wouldn't you want but in your tool kit?


Interested in a workshop on business writing for your team? Contact us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We'll put you in touch with a trainer, not a salesperson.

About Ralph Brown

ralph brown blog3

Ralph is our founder and managing director. He has a background in psychology, television journalism and business.

Ralph's passions are psychology and writing. He leads workshops on both and speaks to conferences on the psychology of thriving at work.

In 2011  Professional Speakers Australia awarded him its top speaking accreditation, the CSP.

He has written six books and more than a hundred articles on psychology and writing. International research journals have published his articles reviewing the research on resilience.

Ralph enjoys trips to France. He lives in rural Canterbury.

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