Eliminate these linguistic foibles

1 – The Up-Swing.  Ending declarative sentences with a question mark.  Not only is this grammatically incorrect, it creates discomfort from your listener.  If all of your sentences sound like questions, the listener is subconsciously compelled to say ‘uh-huh’ or ‘mm-hum’ or ‘right’, because you SOUND like you’re asking a question.

Time magazine noted that a study found these speech patterns make “speakers sound less competent, less trustworthy, less educated and less hirable.”

2 – The repetitive tic.  ‘Um’, ‘like’, ‘you know..’  These are bridge words that usually indicate someone is thinking, but over-use of them makes you hard to listen to and less competent sounding.  They’re also known as ‘filler’ words which degrade the meaning of your sentences.

3 – Qualifiers are a different version of filler words. Words such as, “really,” “literally,” “basically,” “right?” and “kind of” are fine when used now and then, but lose their meaning with over use.

4 – Physical tics.  Tapping your foot when you’re nervous, playing with your hair, adjusting your glasses.  Hard to watch can translate into hard to listen to.

5 – Dropping volume at the end of sentences.  This is the opposite of the upswing and speech coaches call it ‘verbal fry’.  You actually can’t hear the last part of the last word.  It’s distracting to the listener because they’re having to guess at what you’re saying.

6 – Speaking too quickly or too slowly.  A good gauge of pace is to listen to well-done podcasts.  You can tell when someone is very listen-able.  They have good tonality, speed and phrasing.

7 – Not bringing in your listener for an interactive experience; talking ‘at’ someone versus talking ‘with’ them.

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