Sloppy Speech Habits Hinder Communication

Dynamic communication is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  Dynamic communicators have three things in common.  1) Dynamic communicators are great conversationalists.  2) Dynamic communicators write clearly and succinctly.  3) Dynamic communicators are great presenters.

I saw a great article on the Monster Blog called “Six Sloppy Speech Habits” the other day.  The article was written to help people be well spoken in job interviews.  However, it is helpful for anyone who wants to become a dynamic communicator.

Here are the six things to avoid that Diane Diresta shared in the article:

1.        Non words like “um,” “ah,” “you know,” “like,” or “OK?”

2.        “Up talk” — a sing song voice or rising inflection at the end of sentences.

3.        Grammatical errors – speak in complete sentences.  Make sure your tenses are in agreement.

4.        Slurring or dropping the end of your words.

5.        Speaking too rapidly.

6.        Using weak words like “hopefully,” “perhaps,” “sort of,” “kind of.”

I agree that these are good speech habits to avoid.   Are you guilty of any of these sloppy speech habits?  Have you conquered any of them?  If so, how?  Please leave a comment sharing your experience with us.

About a million years ago when I was in college, I had a friend, Paul “Jefferson” Venziale.  We called him Jefferson because he was a huge Jefferson Airplane fan.  Sadly, I have lost track of Jefferson over the years.  That’s too bad for a number of reasons.  However, I would like to find him to say hello and to thank him for breaking me of a sloppy speech habit. 

In September 1971, just before the start of our senior year at Penn State, Jefferson and I took a driving trip in an old VW bus.  We went from Philadelphia to Florida, stopping at beaches on the way down and at college towns on the way back north.  At that time, I had a bad habit of saying “You know?” at the end of almost every sentence I spoke.

During that entire two week trip, every time I said, “You know?” Jefferson would say, “Yeah, I know.”  At first, I didn’t get it.  Then I got frustrated with him for mocking me.  Then I decided to pay attention to what I was saying and stop saying “You know?”  He helped me break that sloppy speech habit.

Till this day, when I catch myself saying “You know?” – which isn’t very often — I flash on Jefferson and that VW bus.  He drove me nuts on that trip, but he helped me break a sloppy speech habit, and for that I’m grateful.

While I think that Diane Diresta’s advice on things to avoid is helpful, I want to add a piece of my own — Choose your words carefully.  Be precise in your use of language.  Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”  He’s right.  Precision in language makes for better communication.  Better communication is one of the keys to career and life success.

The common sense point here is simple.  Dynamic communication is one of the keys to career and life success.  Dynamic communicators are precise in their speech and choice of words.  They avoid sloppy speech habits.  They express themselves clearly and succinctly in conversation, writing and in presentations.  If you want to be thought of as a good communicator, follow this simple advice.  Slow down, pronounce all the syllables of the words you are using, be grammatically correct and avoid slang.

That’s my take on sloppy speech habits and dynamic communication.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts on this post with us.  I appreciate and value all of your comments.  As always, thanks for reading – and writing.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Bill Wickenkamp says:

    Hi Bud, Just another thought about speech patterns. Think before you talk. It is alright to pause and give yourself that litte extra time to organize your thoughts before you speak. If individuals would practice this, they could avoid the cliche language and the “ums” we hear so often.

  2. Bill:
    You are so right. Pausing to think is always a good think to do in conversation. It not only gives you the time to gather your thoughts. It sends a signal to the other person/people that you are really thinking about what you are saying.
    Thanks a lot for your comment.

  3. A pause between the words makes you a powerful communicator.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.