As we got up from the dinner table last Thursday night, an unusual conversation started a most humbling experience for me. My son (age 10) told me, “Dad, you say that a lot.”
“Sitting around scratching my head, thinkin’ ’”
“That’s ridiculous. I’ don’t ever say that.”
“You just did.”
Having learned that you don’t argue with a 10-year-old’s observations (they’re always right), I responded, “Well, maybe. But it’s probably the only time this year. That’s just crazy.”
We went about our business. Thirty minutes later, while dogsitting for a neighbor, I was engaging the Mrs. in conversation while the kids tended to the pup. I may have been as shocked as anyone to hear, “I was just sitting around, scratching my head, thinkin’…” My son sprints into the room, vindicated, yelling, “SEE! I told you that you said that.” Daggone it. He was right. That once.
Then over the weekend, I said it three more times. He caught all three. On the last one he just smiled. This week I said it twice in class. Once AFTER I had told the story. What a crazy phrase! Who says that? Me, apparently. A LOT.
Today I was on the phone with a colleague. He teaches presentation skills classes. He’s good. Usually I talk to him in person. A few minutes in today on the phone, I noticed he says, “You know” quite a bit. I started counting. In the next 25 minutes or so, he uncorked that phrase 91 times. Ninety-one!
Our conversation ended with his observation that we all need help, so I decided to take a risk and tell him what I observed (even though I make a living telling people how to improve their speaking, I rarely do it unless someone asks for it, i.e. signs up and comes to class). When I gave him the number, there was a long pause on the other end. He finally asked, “Ninety-one?” Yep. One every 15 seconds or so. Amazing, huh?
The moral? I was just sitting around, scratching my head, thinkin’…
Old habits die hard. When it comes to speaking, we probably don’t even know our habits. Find someone who can tell you yours.