Time to Lose Er the “Uhms”


Years ago I lived on the remote Pacific island of Moen where I taught high school and coached volleyball. My first year, we landed in the championship finals against a team on an even more remote island. It was the final game and we were a point away from winning. The opposing team lobbed the ball; it went out of bounds and rolled into high grass. Charging after it, I sliced open the side of my foot on rusty metal. I ran back to the court where our team volleyed and we won. I then collapsed! I hopped back to where we were staying, held up on either side by students. At one point, I turned around and saw girls sweeping the dirt road with banana leaves. I asked what they were doing.

“Sweeping up your blood.”

“My blood? Why?”

“People here practice black magic and we don’t want them getting any of your blood.” Wow!

Over the many years since, though, what I’ve come to realize is that the person with real magic is the person who knows how to use words.

Words have power. During the past week, did you make someone laugh? Did someone get upset with you? Did you help someone feel less worried? Did someone make you smile, frown, or feel comforted? How did any of this happen? In large part wasn’t it because of the words you offered to a person or the words they offered you?

Here’s the thing — the all-time #1 habit that, er, many people have and that, like, takes away from their, uh, power as, er, communicators is the habit of, like, saying the words “uhm” or “er” or “uh” or, like, some other, uh, annoying word like “like” when they’re, er, uh, speaking!

This is true of teenagers, executives, politicians, lawyers, EVERYONE seems to pepper their talk with these stammering words.

I’m encouraging you to break this habit NOW. Why? Because when you repeatedly say “er-uh-uhm-like” the person listening to you is forced to pay attention to the “er-uh-uhm-likes” and not to what you’re actually saying.

Why do we say “er-uh-uhm-like”? Two reasons. First, we’re filling in dead space while we try to think of what to say. Second, we don’t have confidence in what we’re saying.

How to break this habit?

— Become aware of how often you say “er-uhm-uh-like”

— Notice if you do this a lot with certain people or at particular times

— Decide to break the habit

— Ask a friend to point out when you’re doing it

Reduce your “er-uh-uhm-likes” by just a measly 10%, and you’ll appear more confident and people will want to talk with you.

Getting people to pay attention to you — that’s real magic!


Please send your questions to JP Reynolds at: jp@jpr-communications.com

Follow me on Twitter: @jprweddings

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