I recently had a reminder of a painful experience I had many years ago of breaking a bad habit. I would use certain “filler words” when I talked or I lectured that were distracting from what I was saying. A caring person brought it to my attention so that I could get help and break this habit, which I thankfully did.
I needed to place a call to technical department of a very large company to get help with a problem we are having at work. After being shifted from one person to another a nice sounding woman came on the phone and said that she would be glad to help me.
I explained the problem that I was having and when I was done she replied “GOTCHA” quite loudly, enough that I pulled the phone back from my ear. I was taken by surprise at her response.
She continued to work on the problem asking me questions, and guess what? At the end of each reply that I had she loudly said “GOTCHA”. After talking to her for 10 minutes and about 25 “GOTCHAs” she was able to give me the information that I needed to get my problem solved.
I thanked her very much and told her that I appreciated her time and patience with helping me, and to that she replied “GOTCHA”. After hanging up the phone, I wondered if anyone had ever told her of the habit she had using this filler word when she was helping clients and how unprofessional it sounded.
I know from my own experience it was not until it was brought to my attention that I realized how many times in a conversation or lecture that I said “you know.”
I immediately asked for help from my coworkers and family to bring it to my attention if I said “you know.” It did take a while, but with time and persistence I broke that habit.
I am very conscious now, watching that I do not pick up “slang words” in my everyday language this way they do not come in to my professional language either.
As a professional in any field we not only need to walk the walk, but we need to talk the talk and it should sound professional. Take the time to listen to yourself; is there anything that you might need to remove from your professional vocabulary that is altering how you are viewed by others?
The link below has some good advice for breaking those bad habits.