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Verbal 'Tics' Reduce Your Credibility and Effectiveness.
By Judy Hoffman
Saturday, 20th July 2013
 
Do you have any verbal 'tics?' You do if you use a sound or a phrase over and over again while you are speaking.

Some of the most used verbal "tics" are "uhhh," "ummm," "like" (a favorite of teenagers today) and "you know." You use them to fill in space when you are temporarily at a loss for words. Some people say -- much too often -- something like, "Do you know what I mean?" or "That being said..."

Your particular verbal "tic" may come so naturally to you that you are not even aware of it. But believe me when I tell you that people listening to you hear it - and may possibly be annoyed or put off by it. It makes you seem less articulate and competent and therefore can have a negative impact on your credibility. It can even negatively affect your career.

Back in 2009, when Hillary Rodham Clinton was tapped to be Secretary of State, the Governor of New York had to appoint someone to fill her vacated U.S. Senate seat. One person he considered was Caroline Kennedy, daughter of John F. Kennedy and an accomplished author and moving force behind an important non-profit organization. While she was being considered for the Senate post, she was interviewed by the media.

Her natural intelligence was overshadowed by the fact that, within one 30-minute interview, she said "you know" 168 times, a fact that was mockingly reported by the late night comedians. She subsequently withdrew her name from consideration.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE THIS BAD HABIT?

First, just ask your family and friends. (Don't ask any teenagers, though, because some of them think using "like" as every fourth or fifth word is normal!) Working in private, you can set one of your technological gadgets to record your voice. Then pick out an object in the room to describe for 30-60 seconds or talk about a favorite memory of growing up. Whenyou play it back, count carefully! If you follow my advice to conduct mock crisis scenarios where you are the spokesperson, make sure you videotape your statement and see what happens with your "tics" when you are under that pressure.

IF YOU DO HAVE A "TIC" HOW DO YOU GET RID OF IT?

Various speech coaches have suggested different approaches.

(1) T.J. Walker of Media Training Worldwide suggests one that sounds far-fetched, but I believe him when he says it works. Write out whatever your worst "tic" is on a piece of paper, draw a big red line through it, and tape it to your watch face. You'll be surprised how many times a day you look at your watch and the message somehow gets to your brain to help you stop saying that word.

(2) When you practice your 30-60 second talk on a subject of your choice, have your friend, spouse, sibling, or child sit next to you, asking them to pinch your arm (gently!) whenever you say the word or phrase. If you have opportunities to speak in public, a trusted friend or co-worker can tally the number of times you use a particular word/phrase/expression and share that with you privately afterwards. Heightened awareness often does the trick.

(3) Train yourself that it is okay to pause when speaking. Silence, especially at the beginning of a statement when you are gathering your thoughts, is much preferable to a drawn out "Wellll....." or an "Ummmmmm." Besides, if it is a taped interview, the pause will be edited out.

WE CAN'T IMPROVE OUR SPEAKING IF WE DON'T KNOW WE HAVE A PROBLEM

Those who care about your career success may also be people who don't want to hurt your feelings by bringing to your attention the fact that your style of speaking with "tics" is distressing to them. But when you ask them for their honest
feedback because you want to be a good speaker - whether at staff meetings or as spokesperson for your company - they should honor your request. The time to break a bad speaking habit is NOW!

Until next month...KEEP COOL!

Judy Hoffman
jchent@earthlink.net
www.judyhoffman.com
1-800-848-3907 PIN 2145

JCH Enterprises, 116 Nelson Lane, Clayton, NC 27527, USA
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