How To Stop Saying “Like” All The Time (infographic)

How to: Stop Saying “Like” and Immediately Sound SmarterIt’s the scourge of the millennial generation! And gen-xers overused it for many years before. In fact, experts reckon that an inappropriate use of the word “like” can be traced back to the beatniks of the 1950s. “Like, wow!” soon became the hippies’ “like, far out.” Every Anglophone youth group of the past 75 years seems to have made use of the casual ‘like.’

But still, it sounds wrong.

Psychologists have noted how grown-ups (and the posh) see people who pepper their sentences with ‘like’ differently to how they see people who ‘talk proper.’ If you say ‘like’ all the time, you may be perceived as boring, lazy, stupid, or simply in possession of a, like, tiny vocabulary.

But that’s just half the story, since other researchers reckon that using ‘like’ all the time indicates quite the reverse. When you keep saying ‘like,’ you add nuance to the complex things that you’re saying. It’s a conscientious way to slow down your speech and draw attention to the importance and thoughtfulness of the point that you’re trying to make.

Sadly, most people don’t read this research. Ironically, the people who think you’re boring, lazy, or stupid, are the boring, lazy, stupid ones. They also tend to be the ones who have power. Your teachers. Your potential bosses. Your bank manager. Which means that for better or worse, you can improve your shot at impressing the people you need to impress by eliminating those excess ‘likes’ from your speech pattern.

The advantages of removing ‘like’ from your vocabulary

When you use the word ‘like’ to, like, slow down your sentence and make your point, you inadvertently create the impression that you have no confidence in what you’re saying.

That’s because it’s a ‘filler’ word. You’re secretly sending a signal that you’re afraid the silence you leave while you look for a better word will reveal that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Even if you do know what you’re talking about.
Related: The Power Of Trusting Your Intuition (Infographic)
It actually creates a more powerful impression if you pause, silently, to search for the correct word to use.

‘Like’ also gives the impression that you don’t have an interesting vocabulary, or interesting things to say. You may use the word ‘like’ because you’re too nervous to use a more precise word that you fear will make you look pretentious – or even because you think the person you’re talking to won’t understand the proper word if you use it!

But using ‘like’ is too much of a sway in the opposite direction. It says “I don’t know the word I should use, and I can’t be bothered to find it.” Even if that’s not quite true.

And worryingly, using ‘like’ can make you seem untrustworthy. If something is ‘like’ something, then it isn’t precisely that something. Which means you’re not being honest. It’s a subtle issue, but most listeners will recognize it only subliminally, through the feeling that you’re not telling them the truth.

Why you use ‘like’ all the time

You probably haven’t slowed down to think about it, but there are a number of ways that you might slip ‘like’ into a sentence as a filler. Once you figure out what you’re trying to say, it can be easier to put a stronger word there, instead of that filler.

You might use ‘like’ to approximate. “It’s, like, a ten mile journey.” In this case, you can use ‘about,’ ‘around,’ or even ‘approximately,’ instead. Or you might use it to exaggerate. “It was, like, a real problem.” Here, you can try to find a more powerful choice of word: “It was a serious problem.”

Or you might use it to open a quote. “I was like, ‘yes.’ He was like, ‘no’.” There are plenty of great words you can use instead of said. Don’t be afraid of them – they can make your storytelling more interesting!

Methods to quit saying ‘like’

It may be advantageous to you to fix your ‘likes’ in certain circumstances. Your stories could become more interesting to your friends. Your boss may take your ideas more seriously. Your clients may find you more impressive. If you decide to go ahead and change some, there are methods you can use to do so.
Also Read: 12 Ways to Get More People to like You (infographic)
For a start, go slow. As mentioned above, a silence is more impressive than a ‘like’ – so long as you own that silence. Pause before you begin your sentence, and you give yourself a bit more time to work out the words that should go into it. Speak slowly as you progress through each sentence, and your brain should do better at keeping up with you and providing the words you need.

With that basic principle in mind, it’s time to train. Watch sports shows, or political debates, and pay close attention to the way these commentators keep talking all the time even though they sometimes have nothing to say. Still, they don’t use ‘like.’ That’s because they’ve figured out alternatives to make themselves seem confident and knowledgeable even when they’re unsure!

You can start your own training by practicing talking like these people. Give yourself a subject to talk about without using ‘like,’ and time yourself for two minutes at a time. It works.

It isn’t easy to change the way you speak. And you shouldn’t feel pressured into it. Despite a preponderance of dictionaries and grammar guides, there is no ‘correct’ way to speak. Language is culture. Speech is identity. Be proud, but be aware of the effects your speech patterns may have. And if you do want to change, check out this visual guide to eliminating ‘like’ from your speech. It’s, like, totally useful.

7 Ways to Erase “Like” From Your Work Vocabulary, This infographic will help you learn what words you can use instead of like

Read Next: Life Hacks: How to Have More Meaningful Conversations.
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