Monthly Archives: August 2007

Save time, talk less.

Save time, talk less.

Lifehacks are valuable when they not only save you time but improve the quality of your life. This one sure will.
Do this: stop using vocal speech pauses. omit "uh, um, ah, like, so, well, etc." from your speech.
This is the old argument: people who don't say "um" all the time sound more professional and more intelligent. Of course quantum physicists say "um". Of course people on the radio say "um" (but we don't hear it any more because they've got computer programs that automatically edit it out–perhaps the first time in history a computer program is invented to actually make the people seem smarter.) My friend John says we're always smarter on paper. I sure am. I recently listened to myself on the radio, and I sound like a babbling brook called "Uhhhhhh River." That's why I write the jokes before I go on stage.
I'd like to re-frame the argument for eliminating speech pauses: saving time and improving quality of life. This is also a shift from an externally referenced mode of being to an internally referenced one.
Part one: time. This part is simple. Anecdotally, i'd say my speech pauses take up0 about 20-30% of my speech. Omit them, and I've got 20-30% more conversation time. Put that in your time pipe and smoke it.

  • 20-30% shorter conversations with annoying/boring people
  • 20-30% more time to give that special someone an opportunity to talk about themselves
  • 20-30% more sharing of meaningful glances
  • 20-30% more time to plug your new book
  • 20-30% more time to get in-depth about the destruction of Borneo's forest and ancient way of life so giant corporations can make more palm oil.

Part two: power. When you say the word, "well," you want it have the effect of the moment in the film where the woman tears off her glasses and tells you what she really thinks. Imagine her tearing her glasses on and off three or four times for every sentence. No power whatsoever. And whether you believe your power comes from your performance or your performance comes from your power (sort of a nature versus nurture debate)(I believe it's about 25%/75%), you gain a lot of power when you stop adulterating what you have to say. And that's the quality-of-life.
Anecdotal: I'm telling my friend about hearing myself on the radio and noticing the excess language coming from my mouth. I become self-conscious but not self-critical, and I stop saying "um" etc. after one or two very clean sentences, I'm filled with intensity. It's as if the "um" has been a leak in my hot air balloon, and now I see I can use this new hack to send my balloon up wherever I want to go.
Metaphor: Lynn Twist, who wrote a book called "the soul of money" talks about sufficiency a lot. Her philosophy is that scarcity and abundance are two sides of the same coin, whereas, sufficiency and enough are a whole different model. An excess of words (especially the ones that don't convey anything) is similar to an excess of anything else; it's an imbalance. Speaking just the right amount of words is a way you can allow people to "meet" you where you are.
Action: (start small, work slow)

  • one minute uh-free
  • one phone call uh-free
  • one conversation uh-free
  • one day uh-free
  • record yourself on the phone, in conversation, on stage, listen, and then judge yourself (i know, my blog-tone vascilates from self-help to self-mock and then hits notes existentialism and elation. just enjoy the ride.)

Save time, talk less.

Save time, talk less.

Lifehacks are valuable when they not only save you time but improve the quality of your life. This one sure will.

Do this: stop using vocal speech pauses. omit “uh, um, ah, like, so, well, etc.” from your speech.

This is the old argument: people who don’t say “um” all the time sound more professional and more intelligent. Of course quantum physicists say “um”. Of course people on the radio say “um” (but we don’t hear it any more because they’ve got computer programs that automatically edit it out–perhaps the first time in history a computer program is invented to actually make the people seem smarter.) My friend John says we’re always smarter on paper. I sure am. I recently listened to myself on the radio, and I sound like a babbling brook called “Uhhhhhh River.” That’s why I write the jokes before I go on stage.

Read the rest of this entry

Radical Honesty?

Radical Honesty?

At a friend’s urging, I bought and started reading the book Radical Honesty. Now, before you jump to conclusions and think it’s like someone talking up the merits of soap every time you come around or offhandedly offering you a breath mint, I have to disclaim that this friend had just read the book and found it a profoundly upsetting and worthwhile endeavor. So last night I’m reading it in the bathtub and thinking how great it is. “I’m ready! Bring it on! Wow, the truth IS the only way out of the maze of permanent adolescence (nevermind I seem to be stuck at age two)!”

But so this honesty thing has been going really well all day. I woke up smiling. (honest dreams?) I told my roommate’s cat that its farts smell like a trucker at his first diner stop in 13 hours. The cat meowed. I felt great. I told my car that its headlights are misaligned and I feel angry that it’s running down and polluting the environment, and I would like a Prius a lot better. Later in the evening, I was driving my not-Prius down to San Mateo and telling myself (in an act of radical honesty) how great a driver I am, that I can talk on speaker phone, drive with my knee, and eat granola all at the same time. Again, I felt great. Tomorrow, I’m going to try being honest with… people!

Read the rest of this entry

Radical Honesty?

Radical Honesty?

At a friend's urging, I bought and started reading the book Radical Honesty. Now, before you jump to conclusions and think it's like someone talking up the merits of soap every time you come around or offhandedly offering you a breath mint, I have to disclaim that this friend had just read the book and found it a profoundly upsetting and worthwhile endeavor. So last night I'm reading it in the bathtub and thinking how great it is. "I'm ready! Bring it on! Wow, the truth IS the only way out of the maze of permanent adolescence (nevermind I seem to be stuck at age two)!"
But so this honesty thing has been going really well all day. I woke up smiling. (honest dreams?) I told my roommate's cat that its farts smell like a trucker at his first diner stop in 13 hours. The cat meowed. I felt great. I told my car that its headlights are misaligned and I feel angry that it's running down and polluting the environment, and I would like a Prius a lot better. Later in the evening, I was driving my not-Prius down to San Mateo and telling myself (in an act of radical honesty) how great a driver I am, that I can talk on speaker phone, drive with my knee, and eat granola all at the same time. Again, I felt great. Tomorrow, I'm going to try being honest with… people!
Choice.
But then I was thinking about how the last time I performed at this place, the show sucked. It put me in a sour mood. I'd like to break it to you all: comedians don't always want to be funny. Sometimes we want to eat chocolate mousse and listen to The Cure. Or is that women with PMS? Anyway, I get to the show, and something really wonderful happens; it's a small crowd, but all of us comics have a great time on stage. And the benefit of honesty is that I let go of my preconceptions about the show sucking last time, really enjoyed myself, and made people laugh. (cue sappy happy music) I'm going to take another bath and read the next chapter.
www.aliciadattner.com

 

 

 

Alicia Dattner, Comedian