I dare you to talk about anything for thirty seconds without pausing or reading and without saying “um,” or “uh,” or any other filler word such as “you know,” “basically,” “actually,” etc.
If you fail, I’m afraid you suffer from the “Filler-word Pandemia.”
Chances are, you may not even be fully aware of it, but listen to just about anyone around you, even “professional” speakers and newscasters (when not reading the prompter) and judge for yourself.
If you are like me, you would have noticed this pandemic a looo00ONG way back!
So, I’ve had enough and decided to write about it, which is precisely what you are reading.
I have done some research too and, along with common sense, I have arrived at the conclusion that the use of these filler words is just one of the symptoms of a serious global malady, namely, the lack of critical-thinking skills exacerbated by the psychological need to rush into everything!
You see, we are bombarded on a continuous basis with so much information and our brain wants to process plenty of thoughts at a time, the more thoughts you want to process at a given time, without having developed good critical-thinking skills, the more bottlenecks your neurons have to go through and the more you need to use filler words to “gain” some time without appearing stupidly silent which, actually, would be quite preferable to appearing stupidly annoying with the constant use of the same filler word (if they could at least use different filler words!).
It has also been said that if you say “um” you are more likely to be thinking of what you want to say, whereas if you say “uh” you are more likely to be thinking of how you want to say it. But who cares! Both make you look dumb and are annoying, unpleasant and you need to get rid of them!
So, how to fix this malady of pandemic proportions? The only possible solution I can think of, for the time being, is by further developing your critical-thinking skills!
The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities, on a daily basis, to further develop our critical-thinking skills, the main “tool” I’ve found, and also my favorite, is the “Inquisitive hammer.”
I love to hammer everything with inquisitiveness until a Wow! Or something interesting appears. Or until I meet solid rock. Then I feel much more comfortable about anything, especially if it is an assumption. I despise assumptions!
Well, I feel better now and if this article can turn one “filler-word talker” into a critical-thinking individual whose speech just flows like the dew on a rose petal, my time has been well spent!
JC Wandemberg Ph.D.
President & Founder
About the author: Dr. Wandemberg is an international consultant, professor, and analyst of economic, environmental, social, managerial, marketing, and political issues. For the past 30 years Dr. Wandemberg has collaborated with corporations, communities, and organizations to integrate sustainability through self-transformation processes and Open Systems Design Principles, thus, catalyzing a Culture of Trust, Transparency, and Integrity.