So I can’t stand these phrases or words that have kind of worked their way into our everyday speech, because at the end of the day, we all just want to communicate clearly? I remember specifically the first time whenever I heard each one of these annoying little speech crutches.
Can you count the number of issues I have with those two opening sentences? Let me first say that while I constantly get my dander up over these things, I am equally at risk of using them myself. Don’t take this as finger pointing as much as we are all in this together and together we can do away with these annoying little tics!
1) Starting a sentence/answer with “So”
It seems to me that this is just a way to buy time while you are crafting your answer in your mind. As an example: Question: “When do you think you will have your TPS report ready for submission?” Answer: “Sooo, I have been working all week on my scheduling reports and they have taken longer than expected so I expect that I will have my TPS report on your desk by the end of this week.”
It’s okay to just drop the “So” and launch into your answer. Or if you are still crafting your answer, just take a second or two to gather your thoughts and then reply. Like I said, I am guilty of most of these at one time or another and this is one that I work hard to avoid.
2) Using “kind of” or “sort of”
This is another one of those stall tactics that allows the speaker to think ahead and develop their thought into a comment. The problem is that the terms “kind of” and “sort of” imply that the word one is about to use is close to, but not the actual, thought that one is trying to convey. Let’s take a look. “I had a meeting with our client, Bob Smith, and he is the, kind of, CEO of that organization.” NOPE! He’s not “kind of” the CEO, he is the ACTUAL CEO. No need to drop in a “kind of” while you try to remember his title.
3) Saying “At the end of the day”
There’s really no need to give you an example of this one. I am sure you have already heard it used and I am going to do my part to end it by not contributing one more use of this annoying phrase. I am hopeful that this one is at the end of its cycle. I am hearing it less in business and more in social and lifestyle settings so let’s all hope that soon it will be a thing of the past!
4) Ending every sentence with a question mark?
This one seems to creep in when someone is describing a situation or explaining a process. I think the offender here has good intentions. They want to bring along their audience and ensure that they are getting the message as they go. The problem is that it just comes off as demeaning. When someone does this to me I am thinking “There is no reason to check with me at the end of every sentence to ensure that I am following along. I get it.”
Here’s an example. Question: “What has your team done to prepare for this presentation?” Answer: “Well we came together as a team? And I assigned specific responsibilities to each team member? Then we reconvened two weeks later? To get a report from each team member as to their findings?” And on and on…
Just tell me, don’t ask me. Not to mention that if you are providing this type of information to your boss this could be mistaken as seeking approval after every statement and that you don’t have confidence in the direction you gave your team.
5) Using “whenever” instead of “when”
This one is not as widespread but is the one that probably gives me the greatest “nails on a chalkboard” reaction. The word “whenever” implies that the specific point in time is not known whereas the word “when” means you are referring to a specific point in time. As an example: “I remember how much fun we had on that vacation last month whenever we went to DisneyLand….” “Whenever” just doesn’t work here. We are talking about a specific point in time. Last month, on the 23rd, at 10:00 am…that’s not whenever—that’s when!
As I said, I am not guiltless here. I sometimes fall into the trap of using these crutches but together we can help each other stand and walk on our own without the use of these terms in our speech.