Use “and” instead of “but,” advises Joan Burge of Office Dynamics. For example, instead of saying, “I know you’ve missed the deadline, but …” say, “I know you’ve missed the deadline, and .…”
Why? Using “but” sets up a negative which can make people defensive and less likely to listen.
“And” acknowledges the bad news, yet moves forward. “And” seems to say, “We can work on a solution, which is more important than the blame.”
Example: “I really appreciate your getting all the materials ready for the meeting, and I hope that next time we can double-check the materials before they’re photocopied to make sure we haven’t left anything out.”