Maybe from the podcasting, maybe from writing, maybe from my general interest in self-awareness and preferring to do things deliberately, not thoughtlessly. We all know about filler words and sounds like “umm,” “like,” “so,” and “and.” I’m not sure why we use them. Lately I’ve started trying to reduce them, which takes concentration, so therefore distracts from speaking and listening.
I’ve been asking myself lately why we end sentence with “and stuff” and “or something.” Have you noticed doing it or hearing others?
I’m not just asking out of whimsy. I believe paying attention closely enough, we can sense ever more subtle motivations, which reveal more about ourselves. The more we can move from thoughtless reflex and reactivity to reflection and thought, the more we learn about ourselves. We are surrounded by nuance and subtlety giving access to new parts of ourselves.
So far, I’ve found they act like “sort of,” “very,” “pretty,” and other extra words that qualify our speech. I think we say them to dull otherwise sharp communication. Strunk and White in Elements of Style call them leeches that suck the life from our language. I think we feel vulnerable or threatening if we speak to forcefully, which opens us to judgment or risks offending, so we pull back.
I didn’t find answers searching the web, so put the question to you in case any readers have thought about it. I’m not saying it’s important, but I do believe the exercise gives access to a mostly latent part of us, but that still motivates us daily. Maybe I don’t mind the results of the reflexive behavior and communication, but 1) maybe not and 2) maybe I’ll learn its source and find it affects other communications or parts of my life.
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