We’ve all heard this terse rebuttal many times when we’ve shared an insight or point of view, both from within our own mind’s endless well of thoughts and from those on the outside…Yeah, but….(fill in the blank). Most of the time we don’t even know we are saying it; as it becomes a rather unconscious, habitual reaction to hearing something with which we don’t agree.
The two words, “yeah, but” are used so ubiquitously that it’s been shortened in the urban dictionary to one word: Yabut, sounding more like a croaking frog. Psycholinguists, those who study the psychological factors surrounding human language, are having a field day with it. It ranks right up there with twerking (you know, that dancing thing) and samukai (a funny penguin who does a lot of funny things.)
The response is also a clue that we’re not really listening all that well. As someone is talking with us, we may be hearing them, but in our mind we’re already forming our own opinion, just waiting for a momentary space in the conversation to throw in the “Yeah, (I hear you) but…(my opinion is so much better or you are full of it)…”
There is an art in truly listening to others. It’s identical to the same art we cultivate when we truly learn to listen to our own heart. Most of us don’t do that all that well either. Yes, we often use the Yabut response to ourselves. Just think about the last time you were considering doing something that was outside your comfort zone. One part of you really wanted to explore new territory. The fearful part of you brought up “Yeah, but…what happens if it doesn’t work? Or, he/she doesn’t like me? Or, what happens if I fail?” See what I mean? We’ve all done it. It’s rather self-defeating, yes?
Here’s a challenge for you, if it pleases you. The next time you’re talking with someone, ask yourself how you would like to be heard, and then give that to the one who is standing in front of you. Give them your rapt, devoted attention, rather than the common “Yabut” reply. Ask them questions about what they said instead. See how you learn to dance in the listening exchange, rather than drag your opponent down to the ground in a verbal wrestling match. See what you get!
About Kelsey Collins
Kelsey Collins is an acclaimed author, elder advocate and vivacious speaker acknowledged by her peers for her expertise in elder care and her life’s work towards redefining the caregiver-caregivee experience. Kelsey is regularly invited to speak to caregivers and their institutions at local and national conferences, exploring issues facing aging populations, the implications for healthcare systems and service providers, and the changing roles and responsibilities of family caregivers. Kelsey recently spoke at the Oregon Hospice Association Professional Practices Exchange focused on the challenges and opportunities hospice and palliative care providers face in providing end-of-life services in an ever changing environment.