It’s Like, um, You Know, Like, Just the Way I, Like, Talk

CSR I was in Minneapolis a few weeks ago with my high school senior. We were visiting potential colleges and universities. Thus it was that I came across a column in the Star Tribune by Rick Nelson and Claude Peck called Withering Glance that had me laughing. This is definite bulletin board or team meeting material. They humorously chronicle one of a QA analyst's worst nightmares, which is the atrocious way many people converse in today's culture:

CP: So, like, Rick, you know what? I like, um, really like like our little talks. They are so amazing.

RN: No-yeah. Um, like, bee-otch, you know, huh? Wait, dawg, what were you saying?

CP: Speech pathologies, señor. Trying to weed out repetitive, unnecessary, inane, trendy and annoying tics of speech is not child's play. I'm, like, talking well is really hard. But so worth it, don't you think?

Having, like, just spent, like, an AMAZING weekend with my, like, high school senior, the column, like, hit the nail on the, like, proverbial head.

Along with voice tone, speech pathologies are sometimes difficult to coach. The QA coach is often faced with the retort "that's just the way I, like, you know, talk." What's worse, others in management will often defend that excuse. Our voice and our speech are learned behaviors. The same way a CSR can learn to control their fingers on the qwerty keyboard, they can learn to manipulate their voice and vocabulary to speak clearly and professionally.

The real question is whether, or not, it is worth the time, energy and resources to do so. I know some call center managers who would rather take someone off the phone rather than training them to change the way they speak and converse.

Have you had success coaching people regarding their tone or speech pathology? What worked? What didn't?

creative commons photo courtesy of Flickr and micronomics

  4 comments for “It’s Like, um, You Know, Like, Just the Way I, Like, Talk

  1. Terri Cook-Thielen
    December 16, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Would LOVE to hear what people have used to help this!!! Of course, recognition of the problem itself is the first hurdle, but what is everyone doing from there?
    I think people use fillers “uh”, “um” in order to avoid a silence in a conversation. How do we convince people that a little silence may be “golden” instead of useless, repetitious sounds…?

  2. December 16, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Gee, like, I dunno, but, I would, like, think that these dudes should be, like, totally hosed in the interview process. Fer shure.
    Seriously. If they talk that way in an interview, they’re not going to change once they get on the floor unless someone hits them over the head and reprograms their brain. And that’s a drastic measure.

  3. M
    December 17, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    As a CSR I most noticed my own speech quirks when listening to my own calls – usually with a coach there to help point out how often something was said, or how the manner in which it was said did not come across as professional.
    I agree that this is one of the worst nightmares faced as a QA – especially if a coach is defensive and does not support the observations. I find that this topic is especially hard to deal with when working with an off-shore call centre, where the coaches seem to possess many of the same speech pathology quirks as the CSRs. It’s hard to pick these things out call after call and not come across as a bully sometimes.

  4. December 26, 2009 at 3:03 am

    Hello,
    I think training is the best solution to this problem.

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