Have you ever been in conversation with someone and the only thing you remember about it are the annoying speech habits you heard? Habits such as uptalk, growling, and overuse of the word "like" are common, and very distracting.
No matter how often you try to avoid it, when something irritates you, a judgment is automatically formed. This is particularly true in communication.
When we converse with someone, the purpose is to gather information, find common ground, or create understanding. And it is each communicator's responsibility to convey ideas and words in such a way that the other person can grasp them.
Unfortunately, conversations do not always progress this smoothly.
While we may speak a common language, the manner in which we express our words is as individual as each of us.
One current expression is the lilt of the voice at the end of a sentence, sometimes making a statement sound like a question. Uptalk, as this is known, may be trendy, but also conveys a lack of confidence in what you are saying.
You may also hear conversations relayed in this manner: "And I was like, 'You should really try the red dress because it's like, a power color and will, like, make a statement.'"
Why not try, "So I told her, 'You should really try the red dress. Red is a power color and will make a statement at this event.'"
And then there's vocal fry, explained here . . .
Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.
~ William Butler Yeats
For the most part, how you express yourself depends on your confidence level, subject knowledge, and current social trends.
Using lessons learned as a speech teacher, I advise being mindful of the need for vocal variety in your speech. Variety of tone and inflection is pleasing to your listeners. It helps you come across as one who has something to say, and also ensures you make a good impression socially and professionally.
When you speak, voice nuances, such as tone, help express your thoughts and feelings as well as affect how you are perceived by others. You likely already know that body language speaks just as prominently as your voice. Vocal qualities such as volume and tempo are also a part of non-verbal communication, as is vocal inflection.
Metacommunicative competence is descriptive of your ability to adjust non-verbal language to the needs of various situations encountered. Being conscious of how we come across to others is something we’re all working to get better at.
Hearing annoying speech habits such as uptalk and growling can help you be more mindful of your own speech habits and mannerisms that might interfere with effective communication. But be careful, both of these irritants seem to have a viral effect. As much as I find it annoying, after I’ve been around a group of uptalkers, I find myself uptalking!
As a high school speech and communication teacher and debate coach, a main goal was to help students aim for vocal variety rather than monotone speech so that they, as the bearers of the messages they were conveying, would be perceived as clear-headed, confident, and worth listening to.
Today as an etiquette educator I hope to encourage you to be the best versions of yourself, and to speak to the need of awareness in how you come across to others. Awareness of oneself as a deliverer of messages who will be judged competent, or less so, by others is important.
Being upbeat and positive, not interrupting when others are speaking, and being a good listener will improve your communication any time you converse with someone.
Yes, other people's habits can be annoying, but etiquette calls us to rise above our annoyances. You can choose to listen, or not, but always avoid embarrassing someone by judging her speech habits in the presence of other people.
And if you choose to mention to someone that her uptalk, growling, or repetitive interjections of the same word are annoying and do not offer a positive impression, make sure you know her incredibly well and can present your opinion in a caring, loving manner.
Everyone has feelings that are hard to express diplomatically, and annoyance is one of them. Being "etiquette-ful" means that you are able to be genuine and express your authenticity while being mindful of the thoughts and feelings of another person.