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How to Speak With Confidence and Authority

FlourishAnyway is an industrial/organizational psychologist with applied experience in corporate Human Resources and consulting.

Powerless language can detract from your message and convey nervousness, incompetence, self-doubt, and lack of preparation.  You're better than that!

Powerless language can detract from your message and convey nervousness, incompetence, self-doubt, and lack of preparation. You're better than that!

Powerless Language: Credibility Killers

Your doctor saunters into your hospital room and announces:

"Okay so we, like, got the results of your pre-op bloodwork? And there were, you know, some abnormalities? Your PTT level? Which umm ... measures how long it takes for your blood to clot? It's kinda over the limit? And I may be wrong, but this sort of precludes you from, well, having surgery at this time?"

Think about how you're feeling now. Is this the person you want performing your surgery?

Reader Opinion Poll

Perceptions Matter

If your doctor, lawyer, or stockbroker spoke to you like this, it could dramatically impact your impression of him or her. It paints an impression of someone who is nervous and self-doubting, less intelligent, and less professional. Based on that verbal performance alone, you may even take your business elsewhere.

So why do the rest of us allow verbal bad habits to sneak into our language and sap its strength?

Wimpy, Watered Down and Gutless: This Isn't You

Overuse of upspeak, filler words, disclaimers, and other verbal bad habits render language less powerful. They are credibility killers. Our words become wimpy, our message is watered down, and our audience perceives us as gutless and inexperienced.

When I encounter someone who speaks this way—especially within a professional context—two words immediately come to mind: no backbone. As in jellyfish.

Time has come to kick verbal bad habits to the curb. Make an impression that matches your inner awesomeness!

Own your opinion.  Issue a request.  Make a statement without constantly asking permission from your listeners.  You have the authority to speak your mind.

Own your opinion. Issue a request. Make a statement without constantly asking permission from your listeners. You have the authority to speak your mind.

Verbal Communication: More Important Than We Think

Perhaps you've heard of the often-repeated statistic that only 7% of our communication is verbal, while 38% is tone of voice, and 55% is body language (e.g., facial expressions, gestures). This assertion is repeated in introductory psychology classes and in the popular press. It even has a catchy name: the 7-38-55 rule of personal communication. (Okay, it's not all that catchy, but still.)

If you don't want to be perceived as a spineless jellyfish, then drop the verbal credibility killers.

If you don't want to be perceived as a spineless jellyfish, then drop the verbal credibility killers.

Did You Know?

This incorrect "rule" was based on only two small studies in the 1960s—studies that investigated feelings and attitudes conveyed by women in a single word.1 What this means is that results of those two studies are too narrow to be generalizable. The famous 7%-38%-55% statistic is thus based on misunderstandings of psychological research.

Regardless, verbal communication remains an important method of:

  • Communicating requests and needs
  • Imparting facts, opinions, attitudes, and emotions
  • Persuading others
  • Building and maintaining relationships
  • Preventing or clarifying misunderstandings2
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Read More From Toughnickel

Speak with authority to effectively convey your message. Don't undermine yourself with verbal bad habits. Fix them.

Hesitations Are Umm ... the Junk Food of Verbal Communication

If you've ever listened to a speaker litter his language with umm ... er ... uhh, then you've heard verbal hesitations. You may have become so distracted by the speaker's vocal faltering that you began to count their umms. Even presidents known for their superb oratory skills have been mocked for such vocal faltering.

Hesitations are empty words or sounds that we use to fill time, and each language has its own list of favorites.3 Think of them as the junk food of verbal communication. It is acceptable to use them on occasion, but indulge in too many too often and they inflict major damage to your credibility.

One study, for example, found that speakers who routinely overused hesitations were perceived as:

  • Uncomfortable
  • Inarticulate
  • Uninteresting
  • Ill-prepared
  • Nervous
  • Disfluent
  • Unattractive
  • Monotonous
  • Unsophisticated
  • Lacking [in] confidence.4

That's certainly not the impression you want to achieve.

Don't hide your superpowered awesomeness behind verbal bad habits.  Take control of your verbal communication.  Obliterate language that waters down your message.

Don't hide your superpowered awesomeness behind verbal bad habits. Take control of your verbal communication. Obliterate language that waters down your message.

Know When You Say "Umm"

Hesitations are most likely to occur when we:

  • Use longer sentences
  • Engage in dialog, as opposed to a monologue
  • Talk to other people (rather than machines)
  • Speak on unfamiliar topics, particularly if they're abstract or complex
  • Are under high cognitive load (i.e., have a lot mentally going on at the time)
  • Need to search for a word that is uncommon or unanticipated5

Compared with the use of uhh, the use of umm involves longer pauses; umm signals that the speaker is having greater levels of difficulty. Unfortunately, such filler words can become part of your collateral message. Hesitations provide your listener with your unintentional self-assessment on your verbal performance—a signal that you're in trouble or know you're not communicating well.6

How to Rid Yourself of This Verbal Bad Habit

The more formal the situation, the more urgent it is to take control of your language. For example, during job interviews, presentations, and business situations, it is particularly important to avoid using umms and uhhs excessively or in clusters.

Public speaking coaches often suggest that each time you sense you're about to use a filler word or sound, simply pause to collect your thoughts. They recommend replacing the umms with silence while your brain catches up to your mouth.

That sounds like reasonable advice, but research suggests that you should only adopt this technique if you want to be perceived as more anxious! Instead, focus on making the substance of your message outstanding. Keep your sentences short.

If it's a planned speech or job interview, rehearse. Familiarize yourself with unusual words or technical phrases that may come up so you won't search for them or stumble over them when needed.

You can also videotape yourself to increase self-awareness of the severity of this problem. Work on reducing hesitations of all types—periods of unplanned silence as well as your use of umms, ers, and uhhs. Monitor your progress using video, too. The pain is worth the gain. This is your image we're talking about!

Credibility killers in your everyday language are holding you back.  Stop it!

Credibility killers in your everyday language are holding you back. Stop it!

Are Credibility Killers Holding You Back?

The more formal the social context, the more important it is to rid yourself of verbal bad habits that harm your credibility.

Credibility KillerWhat It IsExamplesDo This Instead


Filler sounds and words that detract from your message, especially when used too much.

umm, ah, uhh, er, well, you know, like, I mean

Concentrate on the substance of your message.


Noncommital phrases that water down the power and clarity of your message.

kind of, sort of, I guess, somewhat, possibly, I think, I feel like, perhaps, possibly, more or less

If you must soften your assertions, do it sparingly. The following hedges are more acceptable: may, seem to, likely.

Tag Questions

Ending statements with a question that communicates your need for validation.

right? don't you think? isn't it? wouldn't it? can't we?

Make a statement. If you need to ask the listener his/her perspective, then do so clearly and confidently (e.g., "What's your opinion?")


Prefacing a statement with a notice that your opinion cannot be trusted as competent.

call me crazy but, maybe I'm not understanding this right but, this may sound like a weird idea but, I could be wrong but

Break this habit now. Stop putting yourself down.

Up Speak

Using rising intonation at the end of a declarative statement.

I'm your doctor? I'm from Michigan?

Own your perspective. Either make a statement or ask a question. Don't intermingle the two.

Hedges: They Kind of Make Language Fuzzier

If you're looking to weaken your language, hedges will do the trick!

Popular hedges include kind of, sort of, seem, appear, somewhat, possibly, perhaps, and more or less. Hedges are qualifiers that reduce the impact and clarity of a message.

Hedges occur frequently in academic settings, and speakers use them strategically when discussing powder keg issues (e.g., religion and politics). When used intentionally, these cautious or vague words soften criticism (e.g., "you may want to consider"), maintain politeness, and avert confrontation.7

Unfortunately, like junk food, hedges often become routine fare rather than the occasional treat.

Like eating junk food, these verbal bad habits can be indulged in infrequently with no long-term consequences.  However, frequent use spells trouble.

Like eating junk food, these verbal bad habits can be indulged in infrequently with no long-term consequences. However, frequent use spells trouble.

The Damage They Do

As a former Human Resources (HR) investigator of employee complaints, I found that employees frequently used hedges when discussing their own responsibility in a conflict. While firm and definitive in describing other people's misbehavior, their language became softer and fuzzier regarding their own culpability. (Think: might, could, and I guess.)

Hedges can wreak havoc upon your credibility. They reduce the strength of your argument and make you seem evasive and weak, particularly when they're overused.

Hedges communicate that you're a tentative speaker who feels too intimidated to own your perspective. For example, don't refer to the boss as "kind of a bully" or say you "could've" misreported your expenses. Say what you need to and state your case.

Hedges invite the listener to question your credibility because they mark information as unreliable. Hedges prompt a listener to pay more attention to information that is made fuzzy. The listener puts more effort into processing the unclear information, and it becomes more memorable.

Tips for Sharpening Your Language

Use hedges sparingly. Don't make your listeners work so hard. Listeners typically prefer clearer language, so sharpen yours using these tips:

  • Minimize the damage. When you must use hedges, adopt those that are more acceptable in professional settings. Research indicates that may, seem to, and likely aren't perceived as poorly as other hedges.8
  • Know where you stand and how firmly you believe your viewpoint. Firmly state when you don't know, haven't made up your mind, or are still learning about a topic.
  • Practice shutting down conversation when you are unwilling to discuss a topic (e.g., "I don't feel comfortable talking about this with you" or "Sorry, but I don't discuss religion at work.") Be honest, direct, and respectful.

Tag Questions Weaken Language, Don't They?

If diminishing your authority is what you aim to do, then go ahead and add a question to the end of your statements or commands. Tag questions weaken your language and can create confusion. In part, this is because tag questions serve such a range of purposes.

These include:

  • Requesting information ("The play starts at 7 p.m., doesn't it?")
  • Expressing a lack of confidence or begging agreement ("This dress doesn't make me look fat, does it?")
  • Issuing a challenge ("We won't be revisiting this issue again—correct?")
  • Indicating compassion ("Take care of yourself, alright?")
  • Adding emphasis ("We're going to win this, aren't we!?!") and
  • Conveying irony or sarcasm ("Nice work if you can get it, huh?")9

Tag questions can be either literal or rhetorical. Their meaning depends highly upon context and vocal tone.

Overusing tag questions can can make you appear unsure of yourself, so replace them with clear questions or statements that express greater self-confidence. Instead of asking, "This dress doesn't make me look fat, does it?" use the more direct form "How do I look in this dress?" (Just be ready for the answer!)

Disclaimers deflect responsibility.

Disclaimers deflect responsibility.

Disclaimers: an Invitation to Devalue Your Opinion

Disclaimers similarly mark you as an untrustworthy source of information. When you preface a statement or opinion with a disclaimer, you cue the listener to devalue what you're going to say. Examples include: "I'm no expert, but ...," and "This may sound off the wall, but ... ."

Sometimes there are situations in which you will feel compelled to spell out the basis of your opinion. Rather than telling your listener what you are not, tell them what you are. Then let them judge your opinion or statement on its own merits. For example, rather than saying "I'm no doctor, but ..." use this: "Based on my 15 years of experience as a certified nurse-midwife ... ."

Do not give others permission to easily dismiss your ideas before you've even uttered them! Own your viewpoint. If you devalue your own perspective, then please work on your self-image.

Stupid Product Disclaimers: Things That Make You Go "Duh!"

Read a few product disclaimers and you'll be convinced that they are early warning signs that the apocalypse is upon us:

  • Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally.
  • May irritate eyes. (pepper spray)
  • Do not allow children to play in the dishwasher.
  • Never iron clothes while they are being worn.
  • Never remove food or other items from the blades while the product is operating. (food processor)
  • Do not drive with sun shield in place. (automobile sun shade)
  • This product not intended for use as a dental drill. (handheld rotary tool)
  • Warning: May cause drowsiness. (sleep aid)
  • Remove child before folding. (baby stroller)
  • Some assembly required. (500-piece puzzle)
  • For best results, remove cap. (a can of aerosol cheese)
  • Warning: Contains peanuts. (peanut butter)
  • Warning: Do not reuse the bottle to store beverages. (Liquid Plumr)
  • Do not put any person in this washer. (washing machine)10
Verbal bad habits such as up speak, hedges, and tag questions can prompt confusion in your audience. Don't be sloppy in your spoken language.  Speak precisely.

Verbal bad habits such as up speak, hedges, and tag questions can prompt confusion in your audience. Don't be sloppy in your spoken language. Speak precisely.

Burned Out On Vocal Fry

Traditionally considered a speech disorder, vocal fry has been popularized by young female pop singers such as Britney Spears and Ke$ha.

Vocal fry has been described as a creaky, croaking, gagging sound as you visit the lower registers of the voice used primarily by burly men and 80-year-old chain-smokers. (Hey, if that's the image you're aiming for, go for it!)

Women's voices have deepened since 1945. Western cultures associate deep voices with authority and credibility.

Women's voices have deepened since 1945. Western cultures associate deep voices with authority and credibility.

Women's Voices Are Getting Huskier

Women's voices deepen with age, just as men's voices tend to become higher pitched. Naturally an octave higher than men's, female voice pitch has lowered since 1945.11 Western cultures associate lower voices with authority and credibility, and women ages 18-25 are at the forefront of the vocal fry trend. They are adopting lower vocal ranges to convey desired perceptions of dominance.

Speech experts note that vocal fry may be a learned behavior, the result of observing the speech patterns of friends, celebrities, and politicians such as Hillary Clinton. Vocal fry can also be used to imply interpersonal intimacy. Look for it in sit-down interviews conducted on the radio and television.

Voice Self-Abuse?

So what's wrong with slipping into an unnaturally husky voice? When overused, it can make the speaker sound insecure, unintelligent, and immature. Many people are very annoyed by the habit, particularly older men.

More importantly, when vocal fry becomes habitual, there's the risk of chronic hoarseness, voice fatigue, and a sore larynx. These are symptoms of contact granulomas, benign but painful vocal cord lesions which can result from vocal fry. Call if voice self-abuse.

But it's your voice, your image, your health. You deciiiiiiddddde.

Upspeak: Making Declarative Statements Sound Like Questions?

Warning: Upspeak is contagious? Does it strike without you realizing it? Makes you sound like you need a confidence boost? Like you're asking permission to make a statement?

Proof That It Can Happen to Anyone

As I sat in a staff meeting a few years back, my boss began to issue his opinion, but his statements sounded oddly like questions. Only they weren't?

"Noooo! Not him too!" I grimaced. I found myself paying more attention to his ridiculous intonations than to his message. I wanted to call a timeout and tell him to stop it.

Here's my point: If upspeak could happen to this guy, then we all need to be on the alert for this virus. Normally an impressive, authoritative speaker, he had been named to Super Lawyers of America. He was an executive at a Fortune 500 corporation, and I am confident that one day he'll be leading it.

But he had become infected by what used to be known as "Valley Girl Speak." And it was undermining his credibility.

Don't intermingle declarative statements and questions with up speak.

Don't intermingle declarative statements and questions with up speak.

Upspeak can strike nearly anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, age, race or gender. (Yes, guys do it, too, according to research—although less often than women.)12

The dialect is a natural part of socio-linguistic culture in other parts of the English speaking world—as in, Australia? England? New Zealand? Other languages also adopt the practice.

However, in the 1980s, Valley Girl talk was adopted by teenage girls in the San Fernando Valley area of Southern California. Musician Frank Zappa attempted to mock the dialect with a song in 1982, but his effort backfired. As a result, upspeak was popularized nationwide.

Also known as "high rising terminal," the tendency is now entrenched in American culture.13 Upspeak is commonly used

  • as a part of declarative statements ("I'm your surgeon?")
  • confirming statements, as a way of saying "Are you with me? Do you understand?" and
  • as a method of floor-holding, to signal "I'm not finished yet."

While useful, upspeak is hardly professional. Ask questions when you need to. Make statements and offer your opinion. But don't intermingle the two in the same sentence.

The video below offers advice on ridding yourself of this verbal habit.

Quotes on the Importance of Eloquence

"One man excels in eloquence, another in arms."

- Virgil, ancient Roman poet

"True eloquence consists in saying all that is necessary, and nothing but what is necessary."

- Heinrich Heine, German poet

"Talking and eloquence are not the same: to speak, and to speak well, are two things."

- Ben Johnson, English Renaissance dramatist

"The finest eloquence is that which gets things done."

- David Lloyd George, former British Prime Minister

San Fernando Valley, CA: Where Upspeak Began in America?

Slang: User Beware

Use of slang in more formal situations can also undermine your credibility. Slang is the nonstandard use of words or phrases associated with being a member of a given group. It can be used to:

  • Release frustration
  • Express rebelliousness
  • Display humor
  • Exclude non–group members from the conversation

The use of slang demarcates a group of insiders—those united by cultural background, geography, or age, for example—from outsiders who do not understand the nonstandard vocabulary. Slang can be a spontaneous, creative, and playful means of expressing shared knowledge, but the challenge is in knowing:

  • What the slang term means
  • When and how to use it
  • How often
  • Who you're talking to

No one likes to be excluded. Therefore, the more formal the situation and the more diverse the audience, the less slang is appropriate.

Slang serves many purposes.  Be sure you're not excluding your audience.

Slang serves many purposes. Be sure you're not excluding your audience.

Slang Terms From the Last Century




a hot-blooded or fiery girl


cash or check?

Do you kiss now or later?





Mrs. Grundy

An uptight or very straight-laced person


hard boiled

a tough, strong guy


blow your wig

become very excited


dead hoofer (or cement mixer)

bad dancer


Mitt me kid!

Congratulate me!





trip for biscuits

A task that yields nothing


above my pay grade

Don't ask me


bust rocks

To serve time in prison


Hi, sugar, are you rationed?

Are you going steady?



good stuff


snap your cap

get angry





cruisin' for a bruisin'

looking for trouble


Cut the gas!

Be quiet!


hit the bottle

bleach one's hair (blonde)


hub cap

a boy who tries to be a big wheel but fails


lighting up the tilt sign

not telling the truth



to verbally cut down


five finger discount

anything obtained by theft


flake off

get out of here


gimme some skin

let's shake hands


hang loose

take it easy


far out



brick house

someone who is physically well built with an attractive body


dream on

you're being unrealistic



in poor taste



cool, new





road pizza



to the max

to an extreme level


As if!

Yeah right!



nice jewelry





Don't go there!

That's a touchy subject!


Get a room!

your public displays of affection are over the top


How's it hangin'?

How are you?

Avoid undermining yourself with credibility killers so that others can hear the power of your message.  Speak with conviction and confidence.

Avoid undermining yourself with credibility killers so that others can hear the power of your message. Speak with conviction and confidence.

Notes and Sources

1Yaffe, Philip. "The 7% rule: Fact, Fiction, Or Misunderstanding?" ACM Ubiquity. Last modified October, 2011.

2Lucas, Amy. "The Importance of Verbal & Non Verbal Communication." Last modified June 23, 2010.

3Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. "Filler (linguistics)." Last modified January 17, 2014.

4Christenfeld , Nicholas. "Does It Hurt To Say Um?" Journal Of Nonverbal Behavior 19, no. 3 (1995): 171-186. Accessed February 3, 2014.

5Corley, Martin, and Oliver W. Stewart. "Hesitation Disfluencies in Spontaneous Speech: The Meaning of Um." Language and Linguistics Compass 2, no. 4 (2008): 589–602. Accessed February 4, 2014.

6Corley, M, L. J. MacGregor, and D. I. Donaldson. "t's the way that you, er, say it: hesitations in speech affect language comprehension." Cognition 105, no. 3 (2007): 658-68. Accessed February 6, 2014.

7Markman, Art. "What Do (Linguistic) Hedges Do?" Psychology Today. Last modified October 30, 2012.

8Durik, Amanda M., M. A. Britt, Rebecca Reynolds, and Jennifer Storey. "The Effects of Hedges in Persuasive Arguments." Journal of Language and Social Psychology 30 (2011): 341-349. Accessed February 5, 2014.

9Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. "Tag question." Last modified January 22, 2014.

10Toothman, Jessika. "HowStuffWorks "11 Stupid Legal Warnings"." HowStuffWorks. Accessed February 6, 2014.

11Mail Online. "Why women who want to get ahead get a husky voice." Accessed February 6, 2014.

12Hoffman, Jan. "Overturning the Myth of Valley Girl Speak." New York Times. Last modified December 23, 2013.

13Ghose, Tia. "'Valley Girl' Talk Isn't Just For Women, Study Finds." The Huffington Post. Last modified December 5, 2013.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2014 FlourishAnyway


FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 20, 2017:

carlvincent - Excellent attestation that it's important for anyone in any line of work.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 30, 2017:

Liz - Kudos for knowing those slang terms! I tell young girls my daughter's age to stop apologizing for everything and just state the facts. It's hard, however, not to preface something with a disclaimer sometimes. We were raised to be so polite. Thank you for letting me know about the vocal fry video. I've replaced it with a different link. Continue to speak up and be heard confidently at those public meetings!

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on June 30, 2017:

I had to laugh at your chart of slang terms; it was amazing, nay shocking, to realize how many I already knew--even from before my time!

The particular slang of the 21st century that annoys (bugs) me the most, is the use of the word "sick" to mean excellent; wonderful, etc. Similarly, its immediate predecessor, "bad," which meant good. I can't stand those kinds of misuses of words.

As for the 'brick house,' I've heard my husband use the term, in reflecting on past flames from his high school days. But the way his crowd used it certainly sounds anything but complimentary: "Built like a brick sh** house."

Recently, I had occasion to speak my mind at a city council meeting. I was rather hoarse, despite trying to keep my 'whistle' wet with sips of water and a stick of gum.

I felt I had no choice but to 'own' the problem so as NOT to be taken for indecisive. So I prefaced my remarks with, "I'm sorry if my voice sounds weak or hoarse, but commercial air conditioning affects me that way."

It's true, and it annoys me no end. The A/C at home does not bother me; only that in public buildings.

(BTW--your video on 'fry' says not available--and a search on YouTube turned up several, and on every one of them, the audio was not playing!)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 28, 2015:

aesta1 - Don't discount yourself.Say what you need to! Thank you for reading and fessing up!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on May 27, 2015:

Am guilty of being a disclaimer. I thought it is just being humble so people will feel more comfortable with me but you're right, it is undermining my own ideas.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 22, 2014:

Iris - Thanks for stopping by. It's a very hard habit to break.

Cristen Iris from Boise, Idaho on September 22, 2014:

Fantastic article! Toastmasters broke me of many of my bad speech habits such as "ums" and "ahs", but your article (and the excellent videos) reminded me to be more authoritative and purposeful with my content. Voted up!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 26, 2014:

Cyndi10 - Actors are trying to sound more authentic so they are mumbling like the rest of us rather than clearly enunciating their words. Awful stuff! Thanks for reading and sharing!

Cynthia B Turner from Georgia on June 26, 2014:

This was so great! I especially, you know, liked the videos:-) They were so informative and too funny. I never heard of vocal fry, although I have heard it in speech. I just didn't know it is now a "thing." What I have noticed is this whispery way of speaking that seems to be a big trend, at least among actors in some shows. I find it odd. It's as if they are always out of breath, regardless of the scene. Is there a name for that one or am I the only person that has noticed this?

Anyway, I'm sharing this for those who may have missed it earlier. Take care.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 22, 2014:

Donna - Although slang can have its purpose, conveying an air of professional authority and competence is not generally associated with it. It is an easy habit to pick up, but habits are made to be broken. I support you!

Donna Caprio Quinlan from Newburyport, MA on June 22, 2014:

Great informative hub! I have been guilty of using some of the slang in an earlier life, such as "cheesy". I'll think more about my speech after reading this.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 19, 2014:

RTalloni - Thank you for the kind words of praise. I appreciate your sharing and commenting. Have a great weekend!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 19, 2014:

Heidi - That's one of my pet peeves, too. People discount their own credibility before they even deliver their message! Thanks so much for commenting, voting, and sharing.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 19, 2014:

torrilynn - It's definitely easier to command respect when you speak clearly and can be understood by your audience. I appreciate your reading and commenting.

torrilynn on June 19, 2014:

I think the more that you speak your mind, the more that you are respected as long as you speak you mind in the correct format. I thank you for this hub.

RTalloni on June 19, 2014:

Bravo for a job well done in this hub on the importance of evaluating our communication and determining to make it what it needs to be.

Useful, entertaining, delightful, and needed all in one hub means you have set a high bar for the rest of us to work towards. Pinning to my Writing:… board, and more.

Plan to return to review this again!

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on June 19, 2014:

How did I miss this hub of yours? Awesome! No, wait, was that slang? :)

Anyway, some great tips for communications of all sorts, but for speakers in particular. Voted up, up, up and sharing!

BTW, the "I'm no expert..." expert is one of my pet peeves. Just irks me when someone uses it.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 19, 2014:

Sanjay - Thank you!

Sanjay Sharma from Mandi (HP) India on June 19, 2014:

Nice and educating hub. Voted up.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 19, 2014:

Hackslap - Thanks for the kudos and the up vote.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 19, 2014:

CyberShelley - Thanks for the kind compliment and for sharing. I would say you are awesome but ... well, I just won't. ;-). Have a great day!

Harry from Sydney, Australia on June 18, 2014:

What a fantastic hub!!! and anyone can tell you did a significant amount of research and spent even more time putting it together're so correct that the way you speak can either have a troop following your orders or not respect you at all ..

voted up!

Shelley Watson on June 18, 2014:

This is the most fantastic and educational hub. Vocal Fry is something I've heard but did not realise it had a name and was a problem. I do try to speak properly as you are quite right about people judging one's intellect by the way one speaks. Enjoyed the read, shared and Pinned.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 21, 2014:

Rajan - Thanks for reading and commenting. These are sometimes difficult pointers to incorporate but well worth the effort.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 20, 2014:

Excellent message and well written. All these pitfalls do make for a speaker who impresses less.

Voted up and useful.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 19, 2014:

VioletteRose - Thank you for stopping by! Have a great weekend!

VioletteRose from Atlanta on April 18, 2014:

Very well written, thank you :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 24, 2014:

almightycall - How wonderful that you enjoyed it with such enthusiasm! I appreciate your kindness.

almightycali on February 24, 2014:

super-fantastic hub! the ways you speak most certainly determine what people think about you. thanks for publishing this hub and i love all your pictures too.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 19, 2014:

Crafty - You wonder whether the "coffee is hot" is a promise or a threat? Gotta love the lawyers.

CraftytotheCore on February 19, 2014:

Great read! I was laughing hysterically by the time I got to the stupid product disclaimers because I used to work in a law firm. Coffee is hot printed on the side of hot coffee....Anyway, those slang words are funny. I hadn't heard of most of them.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 18, 2014:

Millionaire Tips/Shasta - You're worth a million freaking bucks! Own your awesomeness!

Shasta Matova from USA on February 18, 2014:

I have to admit that I do have the tendency to speak in a wimpy way. This leads people to think I don't know what I'm talking about even when I do. I definitely need to speak with authority. I am going to study the lessons you have outlined here so I can stop undermining myself.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 13, 2014:

teaches12345 - Thanks for stopping by! I'm trying to teach this to young people in my life when they are busy forming these bad habits.

Dianna Mendez on February 12, 2014:

This is an excellent article filled with tons of useful information on self assertion. I love your chart on what to do. Your photos as such a great emphasis on each point. Funny product disclaimers!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 12, 2014:

WriterJanis - We all are. Often, it's a matter of how frequent and timing. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Janis from California on February 12, 2014:

I have to admit that I can be guilty of some of these.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 12, 2014:

carlvincent - Confidence is key in many lines of work! Thanks for reading and commenting.

carlvincent on February 12, 2014:

Great article. As someone who has to meet new customers on a continual basis (i am a roofer), I think being confident and talking with authority is not only important before you clinch a deal, but also for how the customer sees your product. If you are not too confident, that reflects on your product as well and your customer will subtly start feeling that your product or service is not good enough.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 11, 2014:

Bill - I agree. I start to feel their pain and start to cringe inside on their behalf. I previously had a boss who counted ums, critiqued voice strength and quality, and gave other feedback about things his subordinates had no inkling were a problem.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on February 11, 2014:

A wonderful hub Flourish. I always get a little nervous when I hear a speaker start using "um". To me it's a sign that he or she is unsure of themselves or their topic. This was very well done. Voted up, shared, etc...

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 11, 2014:

Linda - Once those habits creep in, it's like hard to kinda sorta break them. Thanks for stopping by!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 11, 2014:

chuckd7138 - You had one smart Granny. Thanks for stopping by and for commenting.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 11, 2014:

justmesuzanne - Professional demeanor is especially important in health care. What puts kids at ease can make an an adult patient question a medical provider's professionalism.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 11, 2014:

Brian, You're awesome, and that would make a good hub -- things we say to keep the peace vs. what we think. My verbal censor is not as functional as it used to be and it can be a bit liberating at times but ohhh the repurcussions! Thanks for reading and for the kind compliment.

Brian Prickril from Savannah, GA on February 11, 2014:

For a long time I have practiced certain speeches in my head, long before they are aired to the public. After a while, I learned that every speech I practice eventually gets "aired" to family and friends. I'm not sure where I'm going with this other than pre-meditation vs. random thoughts (which could be a decent hub). But, give what you're going to say some damn thought! Huff...okay. You're a damn good writer. Thanks for all your support.

mylindaelliott from Louisiana on February 11, 2014:

I'm actually guilty of several of those. Even in my writing I have to go back and edit some things out.

Charles Dawson from Bartow, FL on February 11, 2014:

My grandmother, before she died, frequently told me, "When you speak like an idiot, people will treat you like an idiot." Therefore, from a very young age, I have found communication skills to be the most important asset that a person can possess, and yes, I treat people relative to the way that they communicate. ... Great hub! Voted up and sharing.

justmesuzanne from Texas on February 11, 2014:

Excellent points! Voted up and awesome! One time I refused to have my blood drawn by a person who came into the room and stood in the door having a loud, grammatically incorrect personal conversation with someone in the hall then came over to me with her equipment tote all covered in Rainbow Brite stickers and expected me to let her start poking needles in me. I told her I did not get the impression that she was competent. :D

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 10, 2014:

Crystal - I enjoy the slang, too, although I'm not sure I understand it all! Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing.

Crystal Tatum from Georgia on February 10, 2014:

What an informative and entertaining hub. I especially enjoyed the examples of slang from different decades. Excellent job! Sharing.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 10, 2014:

MsDora - Thanks for stopping by.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on February 10, 2014:

Very interesting article. Good instructions. I especially like the Credibility Killers chart, and I will remember to replace --um-- with silence. Flourish, there's a lot here to learn. Thank you and Voted Up.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 09, 2014:

Ilona1 - It can depend on the situation how acceptable upspeak, hedges, and other verbal uh-ohs are. Generally, the more formal the situation the more we need to watch it. I wouldn't worry how those who cannot control their language judge you.

Ilona from Ohio on February 09, 2014:

Very interesting- I'd never thought about this topic before, but now I can see it everywhere thanks to your hub. I've changed my "voice" habits, and feel we are forced into this form of disengagement both online and off. Is it the influence of the younger generation? I don't know, but I think people who speak with authority in their everyday interactions can get penalized as "judgmental", "harsh", arrogant". Or maybe it is just maturing women who get this kind of backlash.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 08, 2014:

Eddy - Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a great weekend.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 08, 2014:

Writer Fox - You're right. Learn to do it correctly the first time, not allowing those bad habits to creep in. Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reding and voting.

Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on February 08, 2014:

I think schools should do more to train children how to speak effectively, beginning about age nine. It's so hard to unlearn bad habits later on, and speech is something people use every day. You have so many great examples in this article! Enjoyed and voted up.

Eiddwen from Wales on February 08, 2014:

Interesting and useful ;leaves much food for thought and voted up.


FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 07, 2014:

Natasha - Thanks for reading and commenting. Both the message and the delivery are certainly important. One can really do damage to his/her image with verbal faltering.

Natasha Peters on February 07, 2014:

Great hub! And it's on language, yay!

It's amazing that "how" we say things are often more important than "what" we say. Two people can say the same thing and convey something entirely different. Certainly, I tend to judge a person far more on their tone/confidence/verbal quirks than the combined meanings of the words they are saying.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 07, 2014:

Faith - Yay, records! Those were the days. Your professor's idea is a good one. I've also heard of picking an odd word like "elephant" and each time your conversation partner uses the bad verbal habit, say "elephant." I'd only do it with agreement from the person, however, as in when they're working on cutting out filler words.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 07, 2014:

Sha - I'm right there with you on the up speak. When I hear it I want to call a time out and tell the person they sound like a 14 year old girl. (No offense to young ladies. They aren't usually oozing with confidence.)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 07, 2014:

susi10 (Susan) - I enjoy a good product disclaimer. Who wouldn't expect peanut butter to have peanuts or anticipate that a sleeping aid could cause drowsiness? Must have been decided by committee.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 07, 2014:

savvydating - Seeing yourself on camera like talking serious and everything is one of the most humbling experiences. Thanks for stopping by!

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on February 07, 2014:

Very amusing hub and can honestly say I am guilty of quite a few of these! (though maybe not in job interviews). However, as I am a big fan of letting it all hang out, I'm sure the general public is very glad I'm not a doctor or a lawyer. Love the photos and voted interesting!

dragonflycolor on February 07, 2014:

Every one of my in-laws is a hedger. I HATE IT. I don't mean to yell, but after ten years of dealing with that nonsense, I have to vent. I will ask on certain days if my in-laws can babysit, and the answer always has a hedge word. "it's possible, maybe, I don't think it will be a problem, let me check, we'll see, I don't know but it might work." I ask the day of with these people and I still can't get a "yes" or "no" answer. It's as if commitment is foreign to them and those two single syllable words are not in their vocabulary. And, yes, I have told them how poor their word choices are in this sense, and it still seems to fly over their head. I don't have time or patience to wait for you to make up your mind because you are not in control of your unvaried schedule. I need answers and they should be "yes" or "no". Great, hub, Flourish. Voted up!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on February 07, 2014:

Oh, I have just been informed on the forum that the Pinterest block has been lifted now!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on February 07, 2014:

Your hubs are always interesting and entertaining to read with your gift of humor! You reminded me of my college days in one of my speech classes. I had a crazy professor who sat in the back of the classroom one time while we gave our little five minute speech, and he sat back there with an empty coffee can and a bag of marbles? We did not know what to think until we g ad a long pause or said umm during our speech, then we would hear a loud clang as he threw a marble in the coffee time every single time we said umm or had a long pause lol! Needless to say I was the coffee can and marble queen ...but you know what, to this day, I am very mindful of not saying umm or having a long pause! On my way to lunch just now, I saw a big sign in red letters out in front of a new business that sais"RAD VINYL RECORDS!!!" LOL ...I may have to stop in there and get me some rad vinyl records. Blessings, Faith Reaper ...oh as you may know, Pinterest has shut out HP and none of our hubs so up at all under our boards ...they look like they are there but once you click on your board hubs!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on February 07, 2014:

Great article, Flourish. Personally, I can't stand it when someone uses an upward inflection at the end of a declarative sentence. It seems those who do, end every sentence that comes out of their mouths with a question mark. Very annoying!

Susan W from The British Isles, Europe on February 07, 2014:

Fantastic hub, Flourish! Your hub contains a wealth of information which I have learned a lot from. After this, I have definitely learned more about my speech and the words I choose to speak. I tend to use up-speak and disclaimers very frequently so I will work on making myself clearer. Wow, I can't believe some of the disclaimers companies use on their products are actually real! They have really surprised me.

Well done on is an excellent hub!

Voted up +++, and sharing.

savvydating on February 07, 2014:

This is one of the best articles I've read on Hubpages! Thank you so very much for bringing these faulty speech patterns to our attention. The idea of video taping ourselves sounds painful, but I have do doubt it is the most effective way to literally "see ourselves" and correct our bad habits. Up, useful, awesome.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 07, 2014:

ologsinquito - Isn't that something? There used to be an octave difference but now we demonstrate about 2/3 an octave difference between men's and women's voice pitches, on average of course. It even varies by country.

ologsinquito from USA on February 07, 2014:

I didn't know that female voice pitch has become lower in recent decades. Very interesting. Sometimes when you watch old movies, you do notice a difference in how they speak, even the children. So I guess some of our speech patterns must be learned behavior.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 07, 2014:

Bill - Thanks for the encouraging feedback. Have a terrific weekend.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 07, 2014:

Ellie - Thanks for reading. We all have verbal uh-ohs. Just keep at it so you can speak with conviction and authority. Let your awesomeness shine through.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 07, 2014:

Great message and you wrote it so well....really, this is an excellent article; one of your best by far.

Ellie Shay on February 07, 2014:

Awesome hub, very helpful! I am always trying to work on how I speak. I realize there are some bad habits, but always trying to improve. Voted useful!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 07, 2014:

Colleen - Our collective intelligence may be in peril. Oh, there are definitely needs for some of those disclaimers! I'm just not sure we want to know the story behind them. The thermometer, for example -- I know someone who put the thermometer in the wrong end of their child, cleaned it off, then put it in the other end. Ahh, confusion. It wasn't me but knowing about it has cracked me up every time I think about it. The poor child.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 07, 2014:

Devika - Thank you for reading, voting, and commenting. I'm also glad you enjoyed the photos.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 07, 2014:

glassvisage - Thanks for stopping by! When I heard my boss start using upspeak, I knew that signs of the apocalypse were upon us. If it could strike him, anyone is fair game.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 07, 2014:

Joelle - Thanks for stopping by and for the kind kudos. I'm experimenting with my pin-friendly photo skills - - still learning, but it's easier than I originally thought. Even people who aren't executives need to watch how they say things -- parents, teachers, etc. We're kinda umm teaching a whole generation of kids to, like, talk the way that we do or whatever? Most of the time we're not even conscious we're doing it. Have a great weekend.

Colleen Swan from County Durham on February 07, 2014:

Love this hub. Disclaimers; when I read these I wonder if there are actually people who need this advice. Some I've read would be ideal for jokes in a Christmas cracker.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 07, 2014:

John - Like totally thanks to the max?

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 07, 2014:

Frank - I love the old slang, too. Some of them are really funny and you wonder where they came from. Thanks for reading and for the cool compliment.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 07, 2014:

Stop Undermining Yourself and Start Talking With Authority is an incredible, informative and a helpful hub. You created great authority here the photos are awesome voted up, interesting, useful and beautiful.

glassvisage from Northern California on February 07, 2014:

Wow!! This is such an outstanding Hub and really gets into great detail on this topic. It really irks me to hear the quality of our conversations decrease like it is. I think it's great that you point out the exact issues with language today so people can recognize them. I know I am guilty of some if them when I'm on the phone at work - I hear myself and cringe inside :P Thanks for the post!

kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on February 07, 2014:

What a wonderful article! Usually, when we speak, we don't realize our little habits because we integrate them but as you wrote what is important is the verbal image we present to the world. For people with big responsabilities it's important that the language shows confidence. The same for anybody going for an interview; if the person want to nail that job, he or she has to pay attention to those little bad habits that might cost them their job! Too bad there is not mirror that would show our flows ;-) We have to rely on family and friends to let us know what we do wrong when we talk and how we can improve; hopefuly they don't have the same flaws!

I love the way you develop your articles, always rich in content and you cover all the sides of it!

Have a nice day!

PS : I love all your pictures but my favorite one is the one on the top :-)

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on February 06, 2014:

Great hub Flourish. Voted 'rad'!

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on February 06, 2014:

this was such a fun and entertaining hub I like the slang from decades past.. this is hubpaging at its best!!!!

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