It all starts with ‘AND’: a simple way to reduce conflict and increase connection

Take 1

  1. Someone starts talking. You can already tell you are not going to agree with what they’re saying.
  2. You might notice that you already start shutting down.
  3. You start feeling irritated. You decide to say nothing.  Or you’re kind of listening but only so you can respond.  Or you’re already interrupting them to give your side.
  4. They don’t listen to you. They’re still focused on what they want to say and they’re not finished.  They don’t feel like you’re listening to them. Tension increases.

Already you have a perfect backdrop for conflict.

Take 2

  1. Notice what is happening for you. Your thoughts:  ‘I don’t agree’.  Your feelings:  impatience, because you want to say your point.  Irritation with what you’re hearing. Dismay, ‘really? You’re saying this to me?’
  2. Listen, pause and breathe. Do your best to focus on what is being said.
  3. Summarise.  What you’re saying is ‘__________’.
  4. Then say ‘AND from my perspective I’m wondering about/I see it like______________. I’d like to talk more about this’.

The ‘AND’ is the most important part.  The summarising helps the other person feel that you’ve understood what they have said as long as it’s not followed by a ‘BUT’

The ‘BUT’ cancels out everything you’ve said before it.

The ‘AND’ opens up your opportunity to express your thoughts and feelings.  It also sets the scene for a joint discussion about a situation or a problem rather than it being me against you.

It can help to start paying attention to the times you say ‘BUT’ and try substituting ‘AND’.   The power of these 3 letters can make all the difference.

We support managers, teams and staff members to build positive and productive teams and to constructively address communication, conflict, conduct and team culture challenges.   Our services include coaching and mentoring, counselling, mediation, workshops, programs and cultural reviews.  For further information, please email Tulsi at



Scroll to top