Three Tips to Say What You Mean

Let’s face it — how we communicate is sometimes even more important than what we communicate. We all want to be nice, polite and understanding but often the filler words that we use can actually undermine our meaning.

And while any verbal or written communication is going to include the use of filler words, our partnership with communications expert Audrey Mann Cronin has shown us that the ‘like’, ‘just’ and ‘sorry’ peppered into our speech is a major barrier to strong, confident and persuasive communication.

Mann Cronin, who created the awesome speech coach app LikeSo, sat down with us to discuss some commonly used filler words, and why you should practice avoiding them ASAP. It might take a bit of practice to ditch these words for good, but it’s definitely worth a try. Here’s why:

Save your sorry’s. Sometimes when we’re trying to be polite or more agreeable we tend to throw the word sorry around quite liberally, often when we have nothing to apologize for at all. “It’s not necessary to start a sentence with ‘I’m sorry, but…’ We should have the confidence and conviction to say what we mean without apologizing,” Mann Cronin told us. Next time, focus on saying exactly what you mean and save ‘sorry’ for when you truly need to apologize.

Just say it. We often use ‘just’ as a polite precursor to an explanation or request but aside from the fact that the word usually isn’t necessary, it tends weaken most written and verbal communications. In a recent Cosmopolitan article ex-Google executive Ellen Petry Leanse noted that she “began to notice that ‘just’ wasn’t about being polite: It was a subtle message of subordination, of deference.” According to Petry Leanse ‘just’ is the equivalent to “a shy knock on a door before asking, ‘Can I get something I need from you?’” The next time you find yourself writing ‘I just’ in an email, cut it and notice how much stronger your sentence is.

Like, so, ya know, right? These discourse markers are without a doubt the most common filler words for many of us. Mann Cronin suggests that words like ‘so’ and ‘okay’ can make sentences more fluid but the overuse of these words can leave the speaker sounding inarticulate. What’s more, eliminating some of these words from your speech can teach you to appreciate and understand the natural pauses that occur in verbal communication. “Learn how to brave the pause,” Mann Cronin suggests. A moment of silence can give you and those around you time to process what’s been said.

Now that you have the tips to say it like you mean it, go out and practice! In the meantime, leave us your thoughts and comments below.

Written with ❤ by the girls at The Girls Lounge.