I was asked to write few tips to improve communication skills. Here’s a few…Avoid saying Shirley and Ashley as I’ll call them.Actually, I mean avoid saying the word actually and surely. Surely, I don’t mean that? Actually, I do.
You don’t actually need to say actually but actually once you actually start you actually find it hard to stop – actually. Occasionally of course these words are useful but before you know it they have taken you over without you realising. Most of us have a few verbal habits and they are very hard to break. When I first met my wife and we started a game where we scored a point if the other said “Absolutely” when agreeing. I never realised I said it so much but it was great to do away with it by laughing.
I remember once visiting a museum in Jerusalem with a group. We were taken around by a guide for whom English was their second language. Someone had introduced them to the word “basically” and they put it in every sentence. I stopped listening to what they were saying as I started to count the “basicallys” I was getting near 100 when I had to leave the group before laughing. Very disrespectful of me but I couldn’t help it.
What’s the life skill here? Maybe in life we should guard against letting anything become a habit because it makes us predictable and dare, I say it, a bit dull. I can remember a teacher who started everything they said with “Errrrr.” They probably didn’t know they were doing it, it was just their way of saying, “Hold on everyone I’m about to say something important so keep listening.” But it had taken them over.
They say old habits die hard. I’m sure I have many phrases that I turn to over and over but I try to be aware of what it leads to so I make a conscious effort in my communication.
To summarise: No Shirley, no Ashley, no basically, no absolutely and don’t get me started on “innit.”
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