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
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.
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