Ode to And

I fell in love with the word when I was teaching speech in college. When pronounced fully — as it almost never is — it produces a clear sense of tying things together. And!

The easy open vowel supplies a container for many things, then the tongue embraces them with a sonorously vibrating “n” to finally cap it off with the drum beat “d.” It brings to mind the rhythmically rolling wheels of the boxcar, the clang of linking metal tongues, and the final clunk of a secured coupling.

Later, in a sales class I Got my first inkling of the word’s literal power. I learned to substitute “and” for but. This practice insured we would never insult a client’s intelligence for negating the belief that a competitor’s product was also good. “Yes, Goldbrick Insurance offers many benefits, AND I’d like to show you how our policy offers even more.”

Next, I saw that it was a great word to use for management communication. It has the power to show that two contrasting ideas can both be true. Here, again “but” loses it’s place of power. “I like the work you did on the report AND I think the final section needs some refinement.”

And too, I discovered it’s a great tool when presenting and facilitating. Using AND I can add onto a participant’s challenging comment or good idea and effectively regain power in front of the room. Where AND is fundamental to agreement and acknowledgement, YES is AND’s partner in the movement toward inclusion. “YES, that’s an interesting point, AND I’d like to suggest you consider this”

Ultimately the word represents a positive principle for life. Most of us are familiar with how motivating it is to respond to new and challenging situations with a resounding “YES!” Consider how many situations might also be met and lifted with a deeply sounded “AND!”

The next time the boss drops another project on your desk, before you go into a state of panic (no doubt preceded by the word “but”), stop, breathe, and think a great big “AND!” Your mind may immediately start sorting time to show you how you can effectively complete the project.

Or try quietly breathing and feeling “AND!” in your heart the next time you notice yourself habitually discriminating based on color, creed, or sexual orientation. You may find yourself thinking “There’s room in the world for this person, too.”

I often use the word as a reminder that I can include whatever is happening in the moment, instead of rejecting reality, making the situation wrong and getting upset. – I’m trying to finish this project AND the phone keeps ringing with new business prospects.

AND is a wonderful word. Sound it fully. Use it with purpose. Say it often. It is the seed of inclusion, a principle of truth, and even a verbal instrument for personal and interpersonal effectiveness.

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