Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation and found yourself distracted by the number of times a person says, “umm” or “do you know what I mean?”
It starts out somewhat funny but quickly becomes an annoyance.
To avoid becoming annoyed, make a game out of the situation by counting the number of times the person uses them. But if you do this, try to keep up on the topic of the conversation, so you’re not rude.
Slang or conversation fillers (AKA bad speaking habits) have become habitual for some individuals. These fillers oftentimes become prominent and consistent during times of nervousness, much like an interview.
Jobseekers who face this problem as well as individuals who heavily converse with people are finding that these speaking habits can actually hold a person back.
Take a job interview, for example.
Securing a great job requires a person to perform well during the interview phase of the hiring process and sometimes answering even the weirdest interview questions. Imagine what the interviewer will think when faced with a job seeker who uses unnecessary speaking habits during the interview. Will the interviewer be impressed? Not likely.
Why bother changing your habits at this stage of the game?
The answer is easy.
Think of the last several times you listened to someone speak, whether one-on-one or within a public setting.
Was there something about their speaking that bothered you?
Did you find the speaker’s credibility diminishing because his spoken words weren’t in line with the professional level you hoped?
A person’s words are so important because they:
• Offer some impression to listeners.
• Relay a message effectively or ineffectively.
• Open or close potential opportunities.
• Relay an in-depth, thorough education … or not.
A first step to overcoming an unprofessional pattern of speaking is to identify the exact problem. I’m sure you’ve heard this old adage, recognizing that you have a problem is the first step to recovery. Oftentimes, a personal already knows exactly what speaking inconsistencies need correction. If you’re not sure you have a substantial problem to constitute self-therapy, ask friends or family members.
Brace yourself. Some members of your family may be too eager to highlight them.
Once you’re armed with a list of your wordage issues, your second step is focusing on correction.
The best way to change bad habits is by replacing them with good ones. Slow down and think before speaking.
Learn how to embrace silence.
Take the time to think about responses before opening your mouth. It’s a matter of retraining your brain to communicate correctly and effectively. If you accidentally make an error, don’t get discouraged. Stop, take a deep breath, and retry your words until you get it right.
A third step to curb your bad habits is to close your mouth. Communication involves more than just speaking.
Your eye contact, facial expressions, and body language also speak to people. It’s a great way to deter the amount of gibberish the slips out of your mouth. During a conversation, including the time spent within a bad interview, the interviewer should spend the bulk of the time talking while the interviewee diligently listens and thinks of well thought-out and “tight” responses.
Train your friends, kids, and spouse to correct you. Strength truly does come through the support of others, so arm yourself with the strength to identify and correct your improper speaking habits.
Once you recognize whether you are an “umm” person, one who speaks too much, or have some other unconscious bad speaking habit, begin to change through conscious identification and avoidance.
At first, you’ll probably speak slower or take pauses while you think of the next words, but that’s perfectly okay. It will take time in the beginning to retrain yourself to speak differently, whether it’s intended for professional or personal development.