There’s plenty of advice out there about words you should drop from your vocabulary. When it comes to public speaking, the list is pretty obvious. Avoid all likes and ums. Skip filler words like I feel like… and I think that… However, beyond the general advice, there are a couple other words to avoid that you may not have considered.

photo by Steven Simko

Carolyn Kopprasch, the chief customer officer at Buffer explains why we should try to leave out the word actually by saying, “It almost doesn’t matter how good the news is; if it comes after actually, I feel like I was wrong about something.” In other words, the word actually gives off a corrective tone, implying that your reader got something wrong. Here’s an example to help you visualize:

“Actually, it’s the same link we sent last week.” vs. “Sure, here’s the link to those hi-res images.”

See how the tone shifts into a more positive zone when you skip the word actually entirely? When it comes to dealing with clients and customers, this is a subtle distinction that can help you avoid ruffling feathers or hurting feelings.

photo by Kristen Kilpatrick

Kopprasch also discusses another word we should cut from all emails: but. Every time you use but, you’re automatically putting a negative spin on your thoughts. So why not just skip it? Here’s the example Kopprasch uses in her article:

“I really appreciate you writing in, but unfortunately we aren’t available.” vs. “I really appreciate you writing in! Unfortunately, we aren’t available.”

I don’t know about you, but if I’m getting bad news, I’d definitely prefer option #2. That friendly exclamation point doesn’t hurt either — just don’t overuse it!



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