The other day while listening to a community radio station, I heard an interview with a local personality who was sharing about a trying experience that she went through and how she was taking to youth groups about overcoming obstacles. While the sentiments were admirable, I couldn’t help but notice how the way she spoke was in the way of her message; her awnsers all sounded pretty much like: “Well, you know, it was, like, just really hard to overcome those challenges, but, you know, I just had to, like, overcome and find, like, what was important to me.”
These forms of speech have infiltrated our vocabulary and are highly contagious! On a deeper level they reveal that we might not stand 100% behind what we are saying, that we feel a need to put a buffer in the middle of what we are saying in case other people don’t agree with us. As a yoga teacher or health professional, you will be asked to talk about what you do, sometimes publicly, sometimes in small interaction with clients and students. Here are some verbal pitfalls to look for:
1-Like: When used correctly the world “like” denotes a comparison between two things. However today it is often used as a filler word in sentences. Feel the difference between a teacher who says “I teach, like, 5 classes a week” and another who says “I teach 5 classes a week”. The second teacher expresses herself clearly and appears more confident, more knowledgeable, more decisive and mature.
What to do about it: Take more pauses. We use “like” as a vocalized pause to fill places where we should pause. So, each time you anticipate saying “like,” pause instead. Surprisingly pausing will also make you sound more authoritative.
2-You know: We say “you know” when we are looking for approval. Everyone needs approval, but if you are ending each sentence with “you know?” it gives the impression that you are not certain of what you are saying. If you are fishing for a nod or a sign of agreement, you probably feel insecure about your message. Is this how you want to come across?
What to do about it: Ask more real questions. If you are not sure how you message is received, ask a question after a few sentences: “What do you think about it?” or “What about you?” Very few people directly ask others about their opinions, and people truly appreciate it. You might discover things you wouldn’t expect, see a new point of view on what you are sharing that you wouldn’t have stumbled upon had you tried to “sell” your points. And people will remember you.
3-Just “I just wanted to talk to you” This often flies under the radar, but it’s a very common error. We use the world “just” to diminish what we’re saying, make it seem less significant. Imagine a child saying “it’s just that, I just wanted to..”. We do the same thing. What we say is that what we’re saying is not that important.
What to do about it: Observe it. There is no magic fix, but if you watch how often you use the word just (other than its correct meaning), you’ll get a feel for moments where you try to appear smaller than you are. Shine a light on those moments and soon enough the urge to reduce yourself in your speech will diminish and you will be more aware of the way you express yourself.
Have you ever experimented with the way you talk about your practice, your business? What have you found?
Suleyka Montpetit is the managing editor or Everyday Ayurveda.She has studied Yoga, Communications and Spiritual Paths for over 15 years and has been a Mover and a Shaker, writing, editing and website building.
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