“You know, really I mean that like wow, it’s tougher to say like what you really mean.”

Sound familiar? Is this you? Is it me? Have you noticed that speech patterns tend to deteriorate over time?

Listen carefully to others. You’ll notice we all have patterns of nonsensical expression. For some it’s LIKE – a word repeated often and with annoying persistence substituted as an adjective, adverb, noun or verb and inserted a dozen or more times in a two-minute conversation. That one is my biggest distraction, and clearly cause for my reluctance to engage some Millennials.

It’s not conscious but it’s annoyingly persistent. And, it’s a huge barrier to effective communication.

We live in an increasingly complex World exposed to hundreds of verbal, visual and digital inputs. Formulating cogent thoughts is tough enough without the verbal foils.

I had occasion to point out to a very capable applicant in a recent interview an expression they had used over and over. I forced a pause and the candidate stopped in near stupefaction of their habit. Apparently, nobody had ever pointed it out – ever. Yet, this individual saw the flaw immediately. Nobody had ever been pointed it out.

How about you? Do you use a term that is a simple filler in conversation? Is it meaningless or confusing? How do you know if you’re doing this? Ask someone to listen and point it out. Then you’ll know.

Usually it’s so subconscious and used almost as a dialogue filler when you’re unsure exactly what to say.

Try this to fix it. First, be aware that you do it. Think about it while you’re speaking. Slow down, talk slower and raise your volume a bit. Give yourself more time to synchronize your brain with your speech.

You’ll become a better communicator. Your ideas and thoughts will be more clearly understood. And, you’ll be less likely to drive the others like crazy. Know what I mean?