Speak like a Leader – Digital Daughters on the “Like, Ya Know” Syndrome

HIgh HeelWhen it comes to our teenage girls, there is a new verbal fashion trend of epidemic proportions – like, ya know, um, ah, I mean, whatever, ya, I can’t, I can’t even…

In preparation for my upcoming panel presentation on how to “Say it Like You Mean it,” I reached out to my Digital Daughter Ambassadors (DDAs) to ask what they thought about the “like, ya know syndrome” and other verbal habits, their pervasiveness and potential downfalls.  I was curious about the girls’ level of awareness and whether they wished they could get rid of their own involuntary verbal tics.

My own Digital Daughter – my very poised and literate teenager – is both my muse and my inspiration.  She and I have a pre-approved handshake that it is okay to correct each other’s verbal habits (hers are the “ums” and “ahs” and mine are “so” and “ya know”).  It’s irritating and takes patience, but it works.

It turns out that many of my DDAs are very aware and concerned.  Carolyn (17, New York) told me, “Yes! I want to get rid of my verbal tics because I don’t like it and think that it takes away from what I am actually saying.”

We do want to speak in a way that compels others to listen – and to not hit the proverbial mute button.

Case in point…I was recently listening to WNYC’s New Tech City Reporter Manoush Zomorodi interview 16-year-old Grace on “9 Things We Learned About Phones from a Teenager.” Grace is wise and offers great advice, but with all of her wisdom came a lot of “likes.” Here is Grace on cyber bullying:

“Of course like people say like snotty things and like…or someone will like unfollow someone on Instagram like or something like that, but its not, like, like, awful awful like ‘Go kill yourself.’”

I was so happy to hear Grace say that cyber bullying is not really as rampant as we might think – but I was distracted by all of the “likes” and it made the story a little challenging to listen to.

My Digital Daughter Lauren from Houston – the super star role model behind the #girlpower organization, “Girls Above Society,” with her own TEDx Talk, blog and eBooks – had a lot to offer.  “The ‘like’ syndrome is becoming more and more the norm with tweens and teens. Adults have caught this syndrome as well, but I feel it runs more rampant with the younger generations. I have to self-police myself when it comes to using “like” too often. With it being a norm, we tend to use it without even thinking. As I travel speaking, I find it important to delete this from my vocabulary as it weakens my ability to be taken seriously. I feel adults judge each other more so than youth. I do feel strongly about teaching youth the art of communication. I also feel that social media use has taken over as our main means of communicating, therefore our vocabulary suffers with these tics.”

How do we rid ourselves of these verbal habits?  Hallie (16, New York) understood that the first step was awareness.  She said, “I think I often I speak like this, but if/when I focus, I can reduce it.”

In MSNBC’s “Know Your Value” column, Corey Hengst offers a rundown of five speaking habits to avoid so your voice can sound influential, yet easy on the ears.  She includes: 1. Upswing (or uptalk), 2. Vocal Fry, 3. ‘Laser” Voice. 4. Filler Words 5. Falsetto.  She says, “Vocal tone can say a lot about a person. The right tone can indicate leadership, experience and confidence. Conversely, the wrong tone can convey indecisiveness, inexperience, and disinterest.”

We don’t need to just dress for success, but more importantly, speak to impress!

On April 28th, together with an incredible line-up of panelists including Social Marketing Expert, Kerry Lyons, Speech/Language Pathologist Marci Maculuso, Director of Writopia Lab, Lena Roy, and Career Advisor, Andrea Putnam, we will explore how our digital and celebrity culture influences the way we communicate and behave.  We will offer tips and advice so we can all learn how to “Say it Like We Mean it!”

I hope you will be there!  Details are below!

Say it Like You Mean it!

Panel Discussion: Mt. Kisco Library, 100 East Main St., April 28, Tuesday, 7-9PM        (Open and free for all! Refreshments served)

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