What Are Disfluencies?

 How to rid yourself of verbal parasites that may be undermining your authority.

Lisa B. Marshall,
March 13, 2012

Disfluencies are word parasites. They pepper your speech and weaken your messages when you aren't watching. They’re distracting for your listeners and they diminish your authority.

"I, like, work for a big bank, like, Citibank. I work, um, in technology, and head-up a group of like, 500 people, you know. I do, like, technology risk assessment, and create, um, processes, to, like, reduce risk. You know?"

Does this sound like someone you'd trust to handle a critical job in your company? Even worse, I bet this person has no idea that his speech is infected with these verbal viruses. In his defense, credibility killers (e.g. "like," "so," "you know," "right," "umm") are actually really common in everyday conversation. Researchers say that about 20% of “words” in everyday conversation are disfluencies.

What to do about it? Pay attention to your spech patterns and whenever you feel a verbal parasite looming, simply add a pause. It will be tough at first, but worth it in the end.

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