Stop Talking Like a Jackass

Seriously.  It's time we all start talking with some damn conviction.

This has bothered me for years. We've become conditioned to avoid confrontation, which leads to a lack of conviction in conversation. Did I just alliterate the hell out of that sentence on purpose? Yes, I did.

I'm calling it The 4 C's of Failed Rhetoric. Here are a few examples:

"I guess my question is…", "Oh, I was just gonna say that…", "You know…", "I would say that…"

Let me put these into the context of an actual conversation between two people:

A: "As you can see, this proposal would have us completing the project comfortably on time."

B: "Can you talk more to how it will be completed on time?"

A: "Well if you look at the timeline, you'll see we have enough days to implement any small changes and still make launch."

B: "Right, but I guess my question is more about the process of getting there. I think—"

A: "—What specifically—oh, sorry. Go ahead."

B: "Oh, I was just gonna say that I think we might be underestimating the number of, you know, revisions that might come up, and thus, you know shortchanging our QA process."

A: "Do you have a recommendation in mind then?"

B: "Well, based on my experience, I would say that we could cut down on front-end development time, given the efficiencies we've gained from similar projects in the past."

Do you see what's happening here? We're all guilty of adopting these phrases in our discourse, but have we ever stopped to think why we use such language in our daily chatter? It's passive aggression at its finest. By inserting these 'filler phrases' we're softening the degree to which we commit to our stance, as well as buying more time to figure out what we actually want to say. But if we didn't go out of our way to play overtly nice then we wouldn't need to buy more time in the first place. It might be a little uncomfortable to speak in a more direct manner, but what fun is comfort?

If we just made our points, concise and committed, we wouldn't need to fill gaps in our sentences, because there wouldn't be any gaps. If you ask your question anyway, why open by saying, "I guess my question is…"? If you say what you're saying, why start with, "I was just gonna say that…"? If someone asks you a question, why all of a sudden develop a royal disposition and preface the answer with, "I would say that…"? And let's be honest, there's only so many times you can drop, "you know" while speaking before your audience finally has to surrender and say, "I'm sorry, I don't know!"

Let's stop degrading the value we bring to a conversation. Seriously, we're making asses of ourselves and not stating our points. It's time we start talking with some damn conviction!


Author: Rajiv Nathan 

Rajiv Nathan is the co-founder of Idea Lemon with a background in digital and mobile strategy. He is passionately curious, a people-meeter and lives by the motto, "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take."