This article is from Carolyn Kopprasch (@carokopp in the chatroom) and it originally appeared on Carolyn’s blog.


One of my favorite “happiness hacks” has been to attempt to remove the word “actually” from my vocabulary. This has been remarkably hard to do, and I still have to struggle not to let it past my lips or fingers. At Buffer, we have found that there is a small band of words that takes away from your message, and “actually” is their leader.

It almost doesn’t matter how good the news is; if it comes after “actually,” I feel like I was somehow wrong about something.

Consider these two sentences:
Actually, you can do this under “Settings.”
Sure thing, you can do this under “Settings!” :)

Certainly, there are other differences between those two sentences besides the word “actually.” We try to aim for the second one at Buffer for several reasons. Bottom line is, if customers takes time out of their lives to ask us a question, thus teaching us about areas of confusion in our app, we’d love if they never have any occasion to feel stupid, or wrong, or corrected.

It’s amazing how much brighter my writing (and speaking) gets when I go through and lose the “actuallies.”


While I’m at it, I try to get rid of the “buts” too.

Sentence 1: I really appreciate you writing in, but unfortunately we don’t have this feature available.
Sentence 2: I really appreciate you writing in! Unfortunately, we don’t have this feature available.

Feel different? When substitute my “buts” for exclamation points, I feel so much happier with my message.

Any other words you strike from your customer service (or general life) vocabulary? I’d love to hear them in the comments or at @carokopp! :)

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