I say the word ‘um’ a lot.
Unfortunately, I just figured this out.
I recently heard a playback of a call I was on at work. To my horror, I realized that almost every time I spoke, I either filled a silence or started a sentence with ‘um.’
Humiliating! Here I was thinking I sounded professional and instead I sounded almost ditzy. However, after I stopped beating myself up about it, I started to realize that it was actually a good thing.
I had just learned something very important about myself early in my career. And now that I am aware of this flaw, I can start to alter it. Ever since then, I’ve consciously tried not to say ‘um’ and scold myself when I do.
To think that you could be doing something wrong and not even know it is a little frightening as a professional. This experience made me think about what else I might be doing wrong and how I could figure it out. I think the best thing is to ask those who you work with the most, ‘How am I doing?’
People might be hesitant to tell you where you’re screwing up, but I think it’s different when you ask. It’s like no one telling you that you have pepper in your teeth at dinner, it’s awkward and no one wants to say anything, but when you ask, it provides a more appropriate platform for them to speak the truth.
It’s hard to know when to ask and what to ask about, but if you want to hone a skill that’s important to you, like public speaking is to me, it’s worth inquiring about.
So ask, don’t wait around for someone to tell you what’s wrong because no one wants to go through their whole career with pepper in their teeth.
So Now, Who Are You Going to Ask, ‘How Am I Doing?’