Things Successful Leaders Avoid Saying (Part 15)

If you have ever seen the TV show The Office (U.S. version), you’re likely aware that Oscar Martinez is the office know-it-all. In fact, his coworkers gave him a nickname that conveys this particular trait: Actually.

He get this moniker because he frequently corrects the facts of others, even when not directly involved in the conversation. He does this by saying “Actually…” while he leans back in his chair and shares his version of the truth.

It’s annoying, and if you find yourself doing this, it might be wise to stop. But there’s another reason that I learned from this article recently.

There is another context in which actually conveys superiority or arrogance, and that is when using it to give a compliment to someone, or their work, whether they are there or not. For example:

  • “Wow, Tara, that report was actually pretty good!”
  • “It was nice that Sam actually stayed involved in the meeting.”
  • “Actually, I was happy with your presentation.”

You can see from these examples that there’s an underlying tone of “usually, this doesn’t go well, but from my seat of judgment, it did; I declare it.”

So, it’s starting to become clear that the word actually might need to go on the list of words leaders avoid saying. But what do you think? Are there actually times the word might work?

I’m still thinking about it.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

To read the previous posts about “Things Successful Leaders Avoid Saying,” click on the links below.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14

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