Filler words “appear in every language and every culture,” says Steven D. Cohen an assistant professor of Communication at the University of Baltimore. And although they have a “bad reputation” recent research suggests they may have benefits--aiding listener recall and comprehension. Filler words in moderation can be a tool for persuasion and influence. The secret is knowing which words to use, managing frequency, and consciously choosing where they occur in a sentence.
Cohen adds that any type of filler words used mid-sentence, are less noticeable than those used at the beginning or end. To eliminate the use of filler words at the start or end of a thought, or to cut down on their use significantly, Cohen recommends recruiting listeners to clap when you use a filler word so you can get into the habit of omitting them. His most salient tip, however, is replacing filler words with a pause. “A simple pause can have a dramatic impact on our filler word use and how other people perceive us.”
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If you would like to read more about creating a habit around masterful communication, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion