I say “But…” a lot. Whenever somebody comes up with an idea I like to say, “yes, but…” It’s part of the devil’s advocate in me. I think I say it because I like to sound smart, like I can counter any point. In that way I’m very argumentative. Obviously it is good to be critical, and to think about issues from multiple perspectives, however I do not think that saying “but” is very helpful for creative thinking.
I noticed that I was doing this when I have conversations with my boyfriend or brothers about the world. I like having discussions, where we talk about issues but do not come to any one conclusion. When people offer interesting and never-before-been-done ideas, I often come up with a reason why it wouldn’t work, or why it doesn’t take these other factors into consideration. For instance, my boyfriend suggested something like, “I think it would be a good if students went to school throughout the year and just had more breaks that were shorter, rather than a long summer break where some students regress.” My response was that it wouldn’t work for a number of reasons, which I then listed. Instead, I could have brainstormed other ways to do this, or to achieve the same ends with a variety of means.
I would like to try to train myself not to do this. I want to hear the person out (and think less critically about their idea) and instead of saying “but” I would like to try saying, “yes, and” or perhaps, “that sounds like it could work, can we think of ways to avoid negative consequences?” I guess this again goes back to suspension of judgment. I need to work in positive directions instead of closing off directions with negativity. There must be many more good ideas that can spring in the same vein as the ones that I have shut down.
I’m going to try to do this the next time somebody offers a solution. Hopefully I will have another entry this week explaining the outcome.