The Power of AND!

14th March, 2011 - Posted from janebeard

Check out these sentences:

“I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t agree.”
“I hear what you’re saying, and I see another option.”

“The marketing budget is smaller than we’d like, but we can still so something with it.”
The marketing budget is smaller than we’d like, and we can still do something with it.”

“There are two options in front of us, but only one looks likely to work.”
“There are two options in front of us, and one looks likely to work.”

Okay. Three sentences, two different ways. Which versions did you prefer? Do you know why?

If you are like most people you preferred the version with the “and” instead of the “but.”

“And” invites continued discussion. “But” draws a line in the sand.

“And” allows both ideas to be right. “But” makes one of them wrong.

“And” lets a third option emerge. “But” means “pick one of these two.”

There is a biological reason for the way these two words generate the energy they do. One of the oldest parts of our brain, the mid-brain, houses the center for the fight-flight-or-freeze reaction in the body. When it’s activated, the blood literally drains away from the part of the brain – the frontal lobe – which generates creative thought and inspiration. You don’t think creatively because you don’t have as much going on there.

A powerful mid-brain is one of the gifts you inherited from your ancestors. When the opposing village attacked yours, the people who could turn off the thinking brain and just react to defend themselves out-lived the ones who thought their way into action.

It turns out, confrontation lights up key chunks of the mid-brain. It goes on alert that it may be time to put up your dukes. Hearing that “but” in a sentence makes those sentries stand up, and the frontal lobe – the smart brain – starts to power down.

Using “and” helps the energy of your biology work for you and the project rather than against you.

The energy of “and” doesn’t gear up the mid-brain as much. That’s especially true when you keep open to the idea that there is a third possibility (or a fourth, or fifth…) and keep that in mind as you say “and” instead of “but.”

You may not always be able to control whether the other person hears your “and” as “but.” BUT we’re willing to bet that you’ll see an immediate difference in how your collaborations go, when you “and” your way through creative differences.

Beyond what “and” can do for others is what it does for YOU and your creativity. Making your energy collaborative, rather than confrontational, keeps your smart brain operating over the “reptilian” or mid-brain. And that guarantees that you will be as creative as you can be.

Whatever work you do – isn’t the fun to be found in the creative aspects? Don’t you relish the days where the energy of various ideas comes together to make something unique and cool – whether it’s a sale or a scene or a beautiful double-play? “And” gets you and your colleagues more creative juice – every time.

Try “and.” Weed out the “but.” And watch the creativity quotient around you soar.