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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You May Actually Want to Read This

by Dustin (bio)

I want to share with you a new verbal weapon to deploy in your interactions with family and friends. Use it wisely.

The other day I was coming back to my office after using the restroom (a wholly unrelated piece of information) and my colleague stopped me just outside of my office to ask a question. She was preparing for a big interview for a prestigious scholarship and asked me, "Dustin, any last words of advice for my interview?" I paused and then shared a few practical tips for her interview to help ease her anxiety. She cocked her head and said, "Wow, that was actually really helpful!" I furrowed my bushy brow and asked, "Hmm, what did you expect? That I would give stupid advice?" She laughed and thought about it and said, "I'm not sure, but I guess I assumed you would make some lame joke." Zzzzzzzzzing! Actually she was right. It took everything in my power not to offer some stupid advice or crack a joke. But the real gem is the power of the word actually.

Nothing stings worse than a well-placed "actually." It leaves you wondering if what you did was in fact worthy of a compliment or if instead it was so outside of your typically lame self that it merits acknowledgement -- a total power move. It knocks you on your heels just enough to keep you guessing.

I've begun to be more aware of the use of actually, and I'm surprised how often people use it to qualify their statements. It takes an otherwise meaningful compliment and swings it back-handed. Let's try a few I've heard recently.

This pumpkin pie is actually really good! (At least much better than the cow-hide I thought it might taste like).

I actually enjoyed this workshop a lot! (It wasn't anything like the horrific brain dent I figured it would be).

I've actually been really excited to talk with you! (I thought you would be lame, and you still might be).

I checked out that MMM blog and actually liked reading it. (No comment)

I've had some fun with it around the office. Try it out and let me know how it goes. You might actually find it useful (and if not, this post will be as useless as you assumed it would be).

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