“Uh,” according to dictionary.com, is an interjection used to indicate hesitation, doubt or a pause.
In listening to interviews and conversations, it appears “uh” has some family members. Their names are “you know” and “I mean.”
We all use forms of interjections. You should do some self-, “out-of-body” listening to your own conversations to observe how you fill empty space. Empty space is unnecessarily feared. Empty space is the space between one person’s statement and the next person’s statement in dialogue. If this space is feared, one tends to either talk over the other person or start a response before fully developing the thought in their mind. In either case, the interjections may not reflect the best offering to good dialogue or articulation.
To grow in being comfortable with conversational empty space, here are five suggestions:
- Pause: You won’t appear ignorant if you choose to pause before giving an articulated, developed reply.
- Develop: You appear less confident by stammering through an undeveloped answer than by taking time to develop your answer during the empty space.
- Listen: Listen to the wording of any question in order to use it to better begin your answer. For example, in replying to “What did you think about the President’s speech yesterday?” say, “The President’s speech yesterday was interesting and here’s why I say that. The President said…”
- Consider: Consider the need for a pregnant pause. Often the silence of the empty space is the best answer. You might call it marinating.
- Breathe: Your audience, even if it’s an audience of one, will breathe with you. In many cases, the speed of the conversation causes you to feel pressure to fill the empty space. You can take control of the speed of the conversation, certainly your side of it, by just taking a nice, deep breathe occasionally. Create ebb and flow. Hit the refresh button.