Leah, Queen's Square | May 1, 2017
I consider myself a well-educated, smart person with a good job where I deal with the public. So why can’t I stop saying things like “um” and “like” all the time? My sister, in the manner of family members who love you and bug you, said to me recently, “Stop saying “like” all the time! You sound like a teenager!”
Meaningless filler words. Disfluencies. Gratuitous vocabulary. We all do it sometimes without even noticing. Think of how many times you say uh, um, like, right, ok. Alright, now actually listen to yourself talk. I bet you do it more than you think. I know when I tried to stop a couple of years ago, it was very eye-opening. Yikes! Do I really sound like a stereotypical 80s valley girl?
Luckily we’re not alone in this. According to QuickandDirtyTips.com, “Researchers say that about 20% of “words” in everyday conversation are disfluencies.” And it happens around the world too. “The Turks say “mmmmm”. The Japanese say “eto” (eh-to) and “ano” (ah-no).” For more interesting around the world filler words (and tips), check out the original article at QuickandDirtyTips.com.
It’s ok to use these fillers with your friends but if you’re giving an important speech, trying to impress someone or sell something, they’re killers! Since these words distract your listener and damage your credibility, you may want to try to tame them. There are a couple things you can do:
- Pause before you answer
- Record yourself to see how much you do this
- Get a friend or family member to be your speech coach
- Try to relax
- Prepare (a lot!)
- Keep it short and sweet
So May is my month to try to control my horrible “like” obsession. I’ll post a comment mid-month to update you on my battle. I hope you’ll join me and let me know how your fight against filler words is going.