Can You Hear The “But” Coming?

Here’s a typical conversation between two women: Kate:  Joan, that new hairstyle is so great on you.

Joan:  But my thighs are fat.

Here’s a typical conversation between a husband and wife: Jack:  Joan, that new dress looks great on you.

Joan:  But my thighs are fat.

woman-pinching-her-thighs__03 reversed
A typical conversation between a mother and daughter: Mom:  Joan, thanks for treating me to lunch – you’re a sweetie.

Joan:  But my thighs are fat.


In addition to being obsessed with her “fat” thighs, Joan is also doing something so typical of women:

Deflecting compliments.

Women do this all the time, and if you don’t believe me, then pay a compliment to female friend, family member or co-worker and listen for the “but.”  It’s coming.but

Better yet, when someone pays you a compliment, listen for the first word out of your mouth.  It likely will be “But…” followed by a self-deprecating remark.

Women excel at this – both the “but” and the self-deprecating.

Bryan “Stop the But” Falchuk

I’d long thought “buts” and self-deprecating were an all-female domain until I read an article by Bryan Falchuk, described, at the article’s end, as an “author, public speaker and behavior change specialist.”

Falchuk talks about wanting us to stop the “but,” focusing mostly on “but” in the workplace.  He starts with himself as an example and…

Wait.  What?  Men do the “but” thing, too?wait what

Indeed they do, according to Falchuk, who cites a conversation after he’d given a big presentation.  A colleague complimented him, and Falchuk’s immediate response was, “No, I totally messed up that section…”

“I could not even start by saying thanks,” Falchuk says, “before pointing out my failure.”

Hmmm.  So men do this, too.Yes but_02

In and out of the workplace, Falchuk encourages people to do an exercise he calls “Stop the But.”  “We are so entrenched,” he says, “in self-deprecation or denying our achievements that we end up framing ourselves with mediocrity at best or incompetence at worst.”

Go figure.

I figure there’s enough out there that knocks us down – why do it to ourselves?

Maybe this is something even Congress can agree on:  the establishment of a National I-Can-Accept-A-Compliment Day.

Maybe even world leaders can agree to an International I-Can-Accept-A-Compliment Day.

Heck – let’s make it every day.

And maybe Joan will stop talking about her thighs.

how to accept a compliment cropped


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