I’m not being hyperbolic: this “one simple trick” is going to save a lot of people a lot of time. (I know, it’s really hard to read that sentence as anything other than hyperbole, but give me a chance.)

I talk a lot about TextExpander and how much time it saves me (and full disclosure, Smile is a regular sponsor of my blog and podcasts). I was recently delighted by an unconventional use for text snippets that came from a Facebook post from Peter Cohen (and pointed out in Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus’ newsletter):

One of the smartest text substitutions I’ve made turns “gfy” into “thanks for your valuable feedback.”

— Peter Cohen

I can’t think of a snippet that would save me more time than this. When I feel attacked, offended, or receive negative feedback I consider unfounded, here’s the process I try to stick to:

  1. Type out a smartass or otherwise scathing response
  2. Erase smartass or otherwise scathing response prior to sending
  3. Meditate, take a walk, and/or listen to some favorite music until the initial reaction passes
  4. Force myself to wait until the next morning to reply
  5. Sit down (if still necessary, gritting my teeth) and writing something polite and understanding

Step 5 always ends up being about the same, and a snippet that just reverses my thinking in an instant would literally save me 12 hours of time, and some physical exertion. Talk about a productivity hack…

As an aside, I’ve found that this type of response to aggressive emails almost always changes the conversation immediately. If an angry customer (or otherwise unfamiliar person) suddenly feels heard, everyone proceeds in a civil fashion. Most people who start out angry are simply assuming that they need to be aggressive in order to be heard. I’ve written about this before, and I’ll refer back to my post on “How to write a customer support request.”

(I’ll further note that this isn’t as effective on Twitter. People directly attacking me rarely seem able to read a short, civil response as anything other than sarcastic or condescending. It takes a bit of eloquence that’s not easy in 140-280 characters. Sarcasm, on the other hand, is really easy in only 50-100 characters.)

I’ll add a group to the TE-Tools if I finish up my new “inverse reactions for better customer service” snippet collection.