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  • Stephanie Clark

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Word Whiskers

Posted by Stephanie on August 24, 2011

Back when I worked in a 21-member Human Resource department, we held weekly meetings during which we caught each other up on what was occupying our time. Each person had the opportunity to speak, or not, and one person in particular had me pulling my hair out!

This lady couldn’t get through a sentence without inserting several “umms.” (She also liked to ramble on and on, which just added to my exasperation. I’m not one for long meetings, alas!)

It is important to recognize that adding “umm,” “like,” and other word whiskers doesn’t enhance communication of your message, which is exactly what I told a recent client whom I coached on interview strategies. He launched each reply to questions with either an “I don’t know,” “Kinda,” or “Yeah, something like that.” Not one reply was definitive, spoken with confidence or surety.

As a coach it was my duty to inform him (with sensitivity of course) that he needs to practice replying to questions without relying on these as lead-ins. Rather than coming across as capable, using these word whiskers gives the impression of feeble communication skills, uncertainty, lack of confidence … Heck! It seemed to me that this client didn’t know his own mind.

Well, umm, I think that, like, that may be all for, umm, today’s blog. I don’t know, maybe I’ll have, umm, more to say in the next blog. Enough said!

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