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Columns : Influential Voice - Kim Welcome Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Curing Verbal Viruses
By Kim Welcome
Jan 27, 2011 - 2:50:31 PM

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Investing the time to eradicate verbal viruses can have big returns in terms of coming across as confident and well-spoken. We all have our favorites but those senseless fillers such as: “ah”, “duh”, “um”,” like”, “you know”, “ya’ see”, etc. can be very distracting. If uncontrolled they can cause a listener to totally miss your message.

It seems these fillers come in handy when we are searching for the right word or phrase, so we fill the silence with our favorite word or even non-word. Typically, we are unaware of how often these viruses creep into our speech and the habit is so deeply embedded it really requires cognizance and work to correct.

The first step is to diagnose the problem. It’s hard to know if you suffer with the problem unless you are able to hear yourself. The best way to detect your favorite fillers is to record yourself in casual conversation. Then listen to it a day or two later. Once you have detected those pesky viruses, begin to make a conscious effort to stop using them.

Replace your filler with a thoughtful pause. Don’t be self conscious about the silence. Believe me; the silence will not be nearly as long to your listener as it is to you. It actually gives your listener time to absorb what you have said and makes you appear thoughtful, knowledgeable and controlled.

You can also enlist someone to support you at work and at home. They can help you by pointing out whenever you use the forbidden words. It won’t be easy, but you will be surprised how much you are able to improve through a little self-awareness and resolve.

One more pointer, in professional settings avoid those cutesy stand-by statements like: “alrighty”, “okey dokey”, “yep”, “no problem” and the like. Go for something a little more neutral and polished like “right away”, “consider it done”, “certainly” or “my pleasure”.  And don’t be afraid to mix them up depending on how you feel. That way you convey sincerity, instead of sounding like a robot. 

Kim Welcome is CEO of Influential Voice, a Communication Trainer and Coach; she assists businesses and individuals to achieve their goals through helping them to develop deliberate, skillful, polished communication skills. For more info www.influentialvoice.com

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