Are You Guilty Of Self-Sabotage Due To Your Speech Habits?

SSI Blog - Oct 2018

“I’m like, almost finished with that report for you.”

“I want to start today’s meeting by, um, introducing myself.”

“She said she’d like, want to meet for an interview soon.”

What’s wrong with this picture? What are these people trying to say? There’s nothing more frustrating than unclear communication in the office. Filler words are a pet peeve of many professionals. Here at Staffing Solutions, we see this all the time! A candidate once had an interview with the Dean of a well-respected University, and he turned her down. When we asked him why, he said the downfall was her use of filler words. According to him, it sounded immature, childish, and unprofessional. The right candidate should command respect in their speech, and she didn’t cut it. So… why do we do it?

Research shows that we use filler words because we hate to pause in our speech. We want to appear smart, prepared, and like we always have something to say on the subject. For many people, pauses are uncomfortable and make us feel self-conscious.

Filler words such as “like,” or “um,” distract your listeners and weaken your message. As the Dean of the University said, it’s unprofessional.

The first step to changing the way that we speak is recognizing that there’s an issue. Being aware of these problems allows us to change our behavior for the better. Here are a few tips to help break this bad habit!

  • Slow down! Slowing down your speech allows you to listen to yourself, and be more intentional about what you’re saying. Being patient and slowing down can help to catch those filler words before it’s too late.
  • Change it up! Changing the filler words you use can help clarify your message. For example, try using “for example,” “nearly,” or “about.” While it’s best to stop using filler words in general, changing the ones you use is a great first step to cleaning up your speech.
  • Keep it up! Working on your speech outside of the workplace can help reinforce your good habits. Even if you focus on avoiding filler words in the office, you might lose progress by letting them slip when you’re off the clock.


With these tips in mind, just remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Keep trying and stay aware of the way you’re communicating, and before too long, you won’t like, need to say like!