So, err, like, you know what I mean?

Have you noticed that more and more people seem to be starting sentences with ‘So’? I don’t know where it’s come from, but to my ears it seems to me to be a way for people to try & sound more expert, more certain. The message is ‘I’m not giving you my opinion, I’m telling you how it is.’ But maybe that’s not why they are doing it all.

I was walking across campus the other day and passed 2 people going the other way – one said to the other ‘Em, …..’ as a way of starting a sentence – and that seemed to me to be the exact opposite of ‘So,…’ – it was diffident, unsure, shy and I would have no confidence that what I was being told was right.  Again was that what was intended?

The football World Cup starts today, and the England players will probably stuff their interviews full of erms, likes, and you knows. This kind of talk has tended to help stereotype English footballers as unintelligent, but a piece of research reported yesterday in the Independent indicates the opposite – it’s actually them trying to convey deeper meaning or additional nuance (or maybe just nerves at having millions of people listening to them).

I guess the point to all this is that how we say something can really affect what the listener hears, so to be a really good communicator we need to understand the listener and speak in the way that works best for them. That’s what recruiters are getting at when they ask for the ability to communicate with people at all levels in the business. You know what I mean?

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