Repetitive Phrase Disorder

It’s not everyone, but there are alot of people who have particular phrases that they say all the time.  Some examples:

  • Kevin, a guy who used to work for me, said “Essentially” about 20 times per sentence.  Another variant was “Basically” which several people I know say in every sentence.
  • At least 1 in 40 people in the technology industry say “Shits and Giggles” or “Shits and Grins” on a daily basis.  This is a horrible phrase.  I want to start a foundation to stop it.
  • Chetan sits near me and says “Whatnot” in every other sentence.  “We have to fix the data and whatnot.”
  • Scott says “Heart of Hearts” and “Dream of Dreams” way more than is advisable.
  • It’s not a phrase, but I use “air quotes” way more than a normal person.
  • Some people fucking curse alot.
  • Of course, the ubiquitous, “Umm“.

There is no way to stop these habits.  They don’t even realize they are doing it.  This is the subconscious messing with our tongues.  Years ago, in college, I took a public speaking class.  The teacher told me that short pauses in your speech are not nearly as noticeable as you might think.  Saying “Umm”, is way worse than pausing your sentence.  Saying “Essentially” or “Basically” doesn’t actually help you get to the heart of the issue.

I definitely try not to say Umm, but I know stopping using “Air Quotes” will be a very difficult task.

3 replies on “Repetitive Phrase Disorder”

The best is when people use air quotes or put quotation marks on a poster/sign and it’s incorrect. That “always” cracks me up. 😀

I’m always telling the kids their behavior is “unacceptable.” Ugh.

I joined Toastmasters a few months ago, which is designed to help people with public speaking and leadership. We do speeches and there are people in the audience who make comments on specific things, such as “ummms”, “ahhhs”, tone, looking people in the eye, ect. When it was my turn to be the “grammarian” (who listen for grammar errors), I decided to also notes things that you mentioned. Extra words that mean nothing, like “basically” or adjectives that someone would use too many times. I have also pushed to get each speech recording on video, which is another way to analyse how we communicate. The main point is that unless we have a mechanism to analyse how we speak, we will not be able to improve.

On another note, Lindy’s friend’s wife would say “really?”, every single time something didn’t go exactly to plan. A car cut her off, someone was smoking too close by, it started to rain, whatever it was was followed by “really?”. Now Lindy and I say it too as a joke, but its almost as annoying. And sign me up to contribute to the anti shits and giggles foundation.

Whatya think?