I think the worst example of this trend is the increasing use of what some people call “lazy fillers” in speech (maybe I’m the only one who calls them that, but whatever).
George Carlin used to joke about the “seven dirty words.” I refer to the “four lazy words/phrases,” which far too many of us use when speaking to fill the empty space while our brains realize where we are in the sentence and what we’re going to say next.
There’s no shame in a slight pause when you’re speaking, so I don’t understand the human need to keep things moving along without a break. It’s good to take a breath and let your thoughts sync in.
Plus, some of these phrases make you sound like you’re covering up for something – as of you’re a used car salesman who gets paid by the number of words that come out of your mouth. My advice: Avoid these words in conversation, and allow yourself to take a breath. I promise you, you’ll come off as more confident and less “shaky” if you do.
Without further ado, here are those words/phrases I hate hearing:
“Ya know” -- If I knew, you likely wouldn’t have to be telling me. When you say, “ya know” you either come off as condescending -- or as if I should already know, which makes me feel dumb. If I knew, I would tell you.
“I think” -- I know this is what you think, or else you wouldn’t be telling me. Often used at the beginning of a sentence, signaling you are thinking and need a second to come up with a POV. I don’t mind waiting four seconds for a response – no need to rush it out.
“Like” -- Popularized in the 1980s, this word is used far too much, like, all the time. It’s frustrating to, like, have to hear it fill, like, every other sentence. It’s, like, unnecessary. In fact, it is unnecessary – not simply “like” unnecessary.
“Umm” -- The laziest of filler words ever. If you sit back and start counting how many times others use it, it becomes a fun game but an overwhelming distraction. I once figured out that a speaker had used the word “umm” more than 287 times in a five-minute pitch. Seriously. Rather than wasting the breath, take a second and organize your thoughts. You’ll appear much more confident.
A solid rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t use the word in a sentence in a written document, you shouldn’t be saying it, ya know? It’s, like, unnecessary to fill the space. I think, if I were responsible for a large corporation, I would, like, umm, train people in executive positions, to like, ya know, not say these things. It’s, like a poor reflection on them, ya know?
And trust me – I am nobody perfect. It’s an ongoing struggle and one you have to be paying attention to every day. These are bad habits, but ones worth trying to rectify in order to present yourself as someone who knows what they’re doing. Ya know?