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Is there a word or a phrase you use (or overuse) all the time, and are seemingly unable to get rid of? If not, what’s the one that drives you crazy when others use it?

I am not sure if I have any verbal tics; I do say “I don’t know” a lot. I think that it may come from laziness; any easy out so that I don’t have to fatigue my brain by properly engaging in a conversation, or perhaps more to the point, it would be to shy away from any confrontation. When one doesn’t know, one cannot participate and cannot get into anything adverse. I dislike confrontation so much, it is an influential force in my life.

I however do have a thing about picking up on other’s verbal tics. My ear zero’s in on words such as “like” and phrases “you know what I mean” and “you know”. I have a friend who cannot finish a sentence and uses “you know what I mean” to finish his sentences, so I always say “no I don’t know what you mean” to prod him into explaining himself. It is always enlightening, I find that it pushes him to expand his thought process. Often in the jumble of your brain patterns, you may think that you understand something really well, but I have found that to really understand an idea, you should be able to explain it to someone else so that they can understand it as well; they might disagree with you, but they understand the idea that you are discussing.

My entire issue with using the word “like” is that those who use it are seriously shortchanging the English language; there are other words to be used and they are wonderful words. There isn’t a need to substitute “like” for synonyms or other descriptors. We have so many, we really do.

I would recommend reading, reading and more reading to remedy the overuse of “like”. The other phrase “you know what I mean” I think is really all about impatience and rapid fire thinking; I would recommend taking a breath between thoughts and slowing down the conversation.

My verbal issue with the “I don’t know” is to inform whomever I am talking to that I am too exhausted to engage, but I would be happy to sit and listen. However if I am concerned about confrontation then I need to work on that. I know I need to find ways to figure out how to deal with conversations without getting worried that it might get to a confrontational level. Discussions with different opinions are fine and they can be done with understanding and empathy. I need to remember that. Part of that is knowing that I shoudn’t let assumptions dominate my thinking. I need to let go and let nature take its course, I can handle it.

I know that this is a huge part of why I love writing so much; it is so much easier than talking out loud. It isn’t stressful; I have the luxury of time, the luxury of a delete button and the luxury of deciding when to publish or whether to publish. For me, this is communication at its perfection.