You’re just actually reading this actual post

I’ve recently begun to notice a certain kind of professional worker and their communication style. These are folks who do not seem to have had the best education, have succeeded in getting a professional level job. They have a certain image of what a professional looks and sounds like that they aspire to. I admire these folks, they are clearly more “self-made” than I am, and they are pretty good for the most part — I can tell they’re faking the style, but that’s OK, the style is for the most part, quite professional. It’s very good. But there are little characteristic tics. One of those is the word “actually” (and “actual”). The word actually is actually used when it’s not actually needed. Often. Here are two examples I hear today:

“…log into the actual system”
“ actually tells you the amount”

Here’s a suggestion. Pay attention to when you use the words “actual” and “actually”. Try the sentence without them. If it means the same thing, use the short version. In the end, you’ll come off much better.

Another word to think about is “just”. When someone is arguing a point with you, and they use that word in a sentence, see how it reads without the word “just”. “Just” is a judgement that something is unimportant, and explicity examining that judgement can reveal biases.

“It’s just the abortion nuts who are worked up about this” Well, why shouldn’t they be mad about this, don’t their opinions count?
“It’s not an efficient use of credit card charges for just $1 or $2,” $1 or $2 can be a lot of money.
“There are just six men on the military’s death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and no one has been executed since 1961.” Is six men not a lot? What’s the right amount?

Here’s a sentence I say to people fairly often: “Say that again, without the word ‘just'” Suddenly obvious points don’t seem so obvious.

One thought on “You’re just actually reading this actual post”

  1. Actually, I noticed this in my own speech about a year ago, and made an effort to remove “actually” from my communications. I’m not sure about “just”, I’ll start monitoring that as well.

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