Are Your Annoying Speech Patterns
Keeping You from Being Heard?

Two Women Talking in a Cafe

Have you ever spoken with someone, and their annoying speech patterns are the only thing you remember about the conversation? Habits such as uptalk, vocal fry or “growling”, and the overuse of certain words or phrases 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.

Individual Expression

While we may speak a common language, the way we express our words is as individual as each of us. But when that expression becomes an annoyance, our message becomes blurred.

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.

Vocal fry, typically heard at the end of a sentence or as a way of closing a thought occurs as a creaky, lower pitch in voice. Hearing at the end of a sentence indicates the linguistic trend, but vocal fry can also be a pathological condition where it is heard throughout the speaker’s speech. It is not a new condition, however, the trendy use of it has become more popularized over the past decade.

Another expressive way of speaking is to repeat words or phrases throughout a conversation or monologue. We’ve all heard the following used incessantly:

  • Like
  • You know
  • Right?
  • Heard
  • Umm
  • Oh yeah

One example is a conversation 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.'"

You can also enjoy this video that provides examples of many annoying speech patterns via a performance of The Three Little Pigs.

Avoiding Annoying Speech Patterns

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 ensures you make a positive 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. Awareness of oneself as a deliverer of messages who will be judged competent, or less so, by others is important.

Hearing annoying speech patterns such as uptalk and vocal fry 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!

Etiquetteful Acceptance

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 their speech habits in the presence of other people.

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.

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