Rather than eliminating filler words completely, Statman recommends phasing out about 90% of your filler words but keeping the rest, especially in more casual conversations with colleagues. “You want somebody to sound like they are in the moment and that kind of authenticity often invites filler phrases,” she said.
The process of learning to pause and speak more confidently without adding extra words can take years, said Lesley Stolz, head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s JLABS California, who has worked with Bates. While Stolz has spent 18 years on bettering her speech overall, fillers can be especially tricky, she finds.
During the early days of her career, she worked hard to remove fillers from rehearsed speeches, but wasn’t aware of how prevalent they were in internal conversations or during deal making. More recently she’s become more mindful of less formal places where they pop up.
“I negotiate deals and fillers really get in the way,” she said. “It takes constant reinforcement.”
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