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How to Stop Saying "Like," "Um" & "You Know"

Learn how to stop peppering your conversations with "um," "like" and "you know" from manners expert Faye de Muyshondt in this Howcast video.


Hi. I'm Faye de Muyshondt with Socialskilz, here to teach you how to stop using the words "like," "um," and "you know" excessively, which I call "junk words." Now we've all met someone who uses those words, like, um, you know, so, like excessively, and, like, it's so, like, difficult to, like, pay attention to the person, because they, like, like, use like, like so many times. And it actually dumbs down a conversation and gives off a terrible first impression.

So what I love to do with people is to create a general sense of awareness as to how many times you use these words. And a couple of really simple things that you can do at home are to either use cards. I actually use these. They're called frownie cards, and as we're doing this lesson in my classroom, we actually hand out these frownie cards as you use the words "you know," "like," and "um." So this is something simple that you can do at home. Sit down with a partner or anyone and have them tabulate how many times you use the words "like," "um," and "you know" as you tell a story.

So take out a timer. So let's say it's a one-minute or two-minute story that you tell. Make sure it's a real story, just for ease of conversation. And have your partner time you for one or two minutes, and have them tabulate how many times you use those words as you conduct your monologue. Now in my classroom, we use buzzers. So, like, every, like, time, like, you use the word "like" or "you know," you hear a buzzer going off. And it's amazing to see how many times this buzzer goes off for so many people. It's so easy to pick up these what I call "junk words" or "filler words." But it's really important to keep them to a minimum.

Now we all use them. I still use them sometimes. But if I go to a presentation or an interview or to meet someone, it doesn't give off a great first impression to be using these words excessively. So the whole idea of this activity is to generate awareness as to how many times you do in fact as you speak and to help you moving forward to not use those junk words so often.

So of the three junk words that I just mentioned, "like" can, yes, in fact be used properly. So the two ways that "like" can be used properly are to show that you fancy something. "I like chocolate. I like flowers." Also "like" can be used as a comparison. So, "She looks like. . . She wore. . ." I'm sorry. Wait. "She looks like a monkey."

Another way that you can use the word "like" is as a comparison. For example, "She looks like her mother." Okay. All right. That's good.

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