My Pet Language Peeve

Warning: there’s a good chance that in the last 24 hours, dozens or even hundreds of times, you’ve compromised your personal power, image and expertise.

Wonder how I know this and what on earth you might have done to deserve such harsh criticism?

Well, it’s simple. Chances are that you’ve peppered your speech with lots of unnecessary fillers. Some of them may have gone unnoticed, others may have annoyed your listeners, and yet others may have outright damaged you in seemingly small but corrosive ways.

Here are some of the phrases you may have used, along with some blunt commentary…..

  • “To be honest…”  – why, have you not been honest up until now? (Leaders beware, using this phrase feeds into people’s innate mistrust of management)
  • “Sort of” and “kind of” –  the current winners in Canadian popularity contests. “Sort of” strips your speech of all conviction and sense of expertise. (For example, do we really “have the winning product” or only “sort of” have it?)
  • “Really” – a highly useful word when used properly to emphasize a word or idea. Even when used as occasional filler, it’s quite harmless. But when used 5 times in the course of 7 sentences, it robs everything around it of intensity and meaning. And you too are in danger of seeming bland and monotonous.
  • “Know what I mean?” – frankly, at some point, after being asked this again and again (and yet again) , I won’t WANT to know what you mean!
  • “Alright?” or “okay?” – are you really asking if people are `alright’ with your idea? If so, stop and listen. If not, cut it out.

There are many more fillers (`basically’, `pretty much’, `actually’, and of course ‘like’, to name a few), but the above seem to be most prevalent these days. They all make you look tentative, unsure, a non-expert. And they grade on people’s nerves to boot.

Here’s a great way to kick your habit:

Ask someone who sees you often to partner with you. Their job is to comment every time you employ your beloved filler. Your job is to put a dollar in a charity box every time they – or you! – catch yourself doing so. This strategy will cure you in no time.

HOWEVER, in being the coach helping people apply this strategy, I have found that a new habit tends to immediately replace the old one – it just sneaks up on you while you’re busy tending to the first one! So pay careful attention…

Now, go out there and reclaim your personal power and image!


PS  one of you had written the following in response to the above:

Well, actually to be totally honest I sort of get this blog and I kind of like it , if you know what I mean. Okay?

This entry was posted in Blog, Leadership, Miscellaneous, Resilience. Bookmark the permalink.


Access free learning tools, articles and other resources for you and your team.

REAL™ Solutions for Abrasive Leaders

Find out how you, as a senior executive or HR leader, can help restore the effectiveness of an abrasive leader.

Training Services

Discover how our training programs will energize and grow your people.

Organizational Solutions

Find out how we can help you with organizational development and initiatives.
Copyright © 2015 Bar-David Consulting. All Rights Reserved. Website by Geist Creative.