Workplace: Filler Language

Workplace: covers the issues and activities of managing the moments of our day-to-day business lives. Five of my books speak to daily business skills. Together, let’s explore what affects us every day (or some days) that we go to work.

Filler language is comprised of the empty words we use when speaking. These are words that we would not use when writing a report, memo, or letter. Filler language often occurs when people are hesitating in thought and feel the need to utter something rather than pausing in a second of silence to find the right, meaningful words.

Filler language includes the words: Um; Ah; Uh; And; You Know; Er; Whatever, and Like.

Filler language as a blog-topic shouted at me through the television screen of a news show panel discussing current affairs. The show host and one female guest were the two who did not use filler language and spoke with a level of intelligence befitting the program. The other three show guests – male and female – used so much filler language that the topic screamed to be written about.

Can filler language as a speaking habit be overcome? YES! Toastmasters is a great place to begin. Toastmasters members focus on improving all aspects of their speaking skills. It is a safe place to overcome filler language and to become a compelling and persuasive speaker.

YES, filler language can also be overcome by being aware that you are using fillers in the first place. Ask a trusted co-worker to keep count of the filler words you use in a meeting, or two. Then ask that co-worker if he/she will give you a silent signal that lets you know “I’ve just used filler language.” Once you become aware of using filler words, you will be more likely to stop saying them. If you aren’t able to correct yourself, join Toastmasters.

YES, enlist your kids to help you. This has a double benefit of teaching you AND them to not use filler language because it is a waste of words and causes others to think you are less intelligent than you are. You can even make it a game with the kids – see who uses the least filler words on a Saturday; a quarter goes into a treat fund every time you use a filler word; or some other creative way to engage the kids in your quest to overcome filler language.

“Um, whatever, you like do, be certain, er, that you overcome like, your filler language.” See, you would never write a sentence like this. So, why allow yourself to speak in such a manner? End it. Overcome your filler language (written with a smile).

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