You know how, um, like, the kids talk these days? Sadly, it’s not just kids—many of us undermine ourselves with speech habits that make us seem uneducated, unprepared and unsure.
Breaking those nasty little habits will improve your education, career, and relationships.
Try these 3 simple exercises:
- Speak in full sentences. Can you say two complete sentences? They must be full sentences, containing a subject, verb and object, and without filler words such as um, ah or you know. Now try a whole conversation.
- Dislike! Can you go the whole day without saying like?
- Think before you speak. “Um” is a placeholder—a way of calling shotgun* on the conversation. It means I don’t want to stop talking yet but I’m thinking about what to say. Think through what you want to say before you start speaking. Your message will sound coherent and complete. If you run out of things to say, try allowing silence or letting someone else talk. (*Calling shotgun means claiming the front seat for a car ride. Often used by kids and childlike adults. Leads to arguments and entertaining discussions about the validity of “shotgun for eternity.”)
Or Just Borrow my Dad
My language-loving father delights himself with witty responses to poor speech habits. Even if you can’t afford to have him shipped to your house, imagine that every time you say “you know” an elderly man interjects “If I already know, why are you telling me?” and each time you say “like” he responds “What if I don’t like?” As an added bonus, each time you use the phrase “you know what” he’ll retort “Yes I know Watt; he invented the steam engine.” The annoyance factor alone will help you quit those bad habits.
It’s an Easy Fix
Awareness is usually all it takes to fix poor speech habits. Pay attention to the placeholders, fillers and extra words you use. You might be horrified at first but with awareness will quickly drop them. Soon you’ll be speaking in clear, concise, complete sentences. Listeners will be more interested, attracted by your confident intelligence. And my Dad will be thwarted.