“Like, what? I’m inarticulate? But I’m a communicator!”

Being a communications and public relations student about to enter the workforce, I couldn’t help but notice this article, Are Your Words Holding You Back?  The article talks about women’s self-defeating speech habits.  However, I don’t think the habits described are strictly used by women.  I think many of us have made the mistake of using some of these before; “This is probably a stupid idea, but…”, “I think,” and the ever popular, “Like”. 

With my classmates and I finishing classes this week and starting internships soon, I think this article is important.  We have to delete these words from our vocabulary if we want to succeed in the workplace and have our co-workers and bosses take us seriously. 

According to the article, by devaluing our comments through downplaying our ideas as stupid we make it less likely to have people really listen to anything we say.  Makes sense, if we aren’t confident in what we’re saying, then why are we saying it?  If we think it’s stupid, then why should they listen?  I know that it is a nervous habit so that if the idea is rejected we won’t feel as bad, but a good employer will recognize our effort if we provide input in a confident manner, even if it is rejected.

According to the article, “I think I can handle the project” is used as a way to play it safe in case you can’t handle the project down the road.  We may think this will help us if we end up needing help with the project because we never fully committed to being able to handle it.  But in acuality “some people will get fed up with you never commiting yourself wholeheartedly.”  This will not go over well being a junior practitioner.  We need to prove ourselves in this business and we’re not going to be able to do that if we’re not confident in our abilities and willing to take on projects and, even though it’s scary, make mistakes. 

Personally, I am really going to have to work on this one, I can’t remember a time when “like” wasn’t a part of my vocabulary.  As the article states, “It’s used as a substitute for ‘said’, to soften what you say and as a filler.  It’s a nonword, like ‘um’ and ‘uh.’ Plus, using ‘like’ makes you sound inarticulate and young – in a bad way.”  I don’t think that’s the image any of us are going for.  Being inarticulate in a communications position isn’t going to fly. 

It’s ok to make mistakes, to ask questions and to have ideas rejected.  The more you try, the better you will get and with continued diligence and some guidance, you will be more respected by an employer than if you were to always get things right but never fully committing or being confident in what you say.  So be confident in yourself and your skills.  It’s the only way to, like, conquer these bad communications habits.

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2 Comments »

  1. Rick Weiss Said:

    Hi Shauna,

    You’ve been writing great posts, and you may have noticed I love to comment on them. 🙂 I notice myself using non-words such as ‘like’ contextually. BTW, ‘like’ is a great word, when used properly. It’s short and concise, unlike phrases like “such as”.

    It is 100% true that the word is overused as filler, and devalues the message we’re trying to convey.

  2. Roxanne Said:

    I am a journalism student and your post hit loose a few post ideas for my blog. I like that your post is based on an article that is targeted at WOMEN and their language. Living in a residence of seventy girls on my university campus, I am often reminded of the stereotypes imposed on women and how the girls in my environment behave is ways that perpetuate these stereotypes. Language is a great place to start if we want to deconstruct deceiving stereotypes and be taken seriously as language is what we use to think and construct ideas and is the tool we use to develop our ideas about the world. In the postmodernist view, language is everything. We should not let language undermine our strengths but use it to make our talents dazzle. My blog is targeted at women and your post carries a message I would love to share with my readers. Please visit my blog at http://stilettossexandshooters.blogspot.com/.


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