Friday, December 01, 2006

Open mouth, say "um, like," and other annoyances

I should be thinning out the pile of stuff on my desk, but as it is nearly the end of the work day on a Friday, I will write a few words on my blog before I go home. I spent a couple of hours at our local college this afternoon, helping judge marketing submissions prepared by five groups of students in a business class.

Several things struck me. One was that the kids had either left their various items of body jewellery at home and covered up their tattoos, or they didn't have any to begin with. They, being part of the business stream at the college, had the good sense to realize that suitable business attire and an absence of nose rings might be a good idea while conducting their presentations. Good for them.

The kids were all polite and motivated. Some were a bit weak on understanding what was expected of them and on motivation, but two groups had several members so dynamic that recruiters are sure to scoop them up when they are ready to go to work.

There were some good ideas. Not all of the groups clued in to the fact that marketing is a form of seeking a solution to specific problems. Only one group actually recognized and itemized the problems and dealt with them one by one. That correlation is very important.

Just about everyone was nervous. That is understandable. Several groups were under-rehearsed, or just winged it completely. That resulted in lots of 'ahs' and 'likes' in their presentations. Does: "I think that, like, a good way to do that is to, ah, like, buy radio spots and, um, it will be money well spent, to uh, solve the problem" resonate with you?

Not me. There were also way too many 'gonnas' and 'go aheads,' As in: ". . . so, like, I'm gonna go ahead and tell you how we're gonna do that."

So, like, give me a break.

And, one young man used the term 'you guys,' when addressing the judges adjudicating the presentations: "I, like wanna, like, make sure that you guys know what I'm talking about."

Sorry. You're going to have to try harder.

In fairness, I was impressed with some of the kids and some of their ideas. I just wasn't all that impressed with most of the presentations. We spend so much time in our schools making sure that our little darlings develop self esteem and feel good about themselves, that there appears to be no attention paid to teaching good communication. That's a tragedy.

I don't mean to be hard on the kids. They did what they thought was expected of them, sort of. I think that whatever failings there are with our young people generally, is because we have stopped stressing what is important. I personally don't care if the kids have self esteem. I am more interested in having them understand instructions, in their being able to communicate their ideas to me succinctly and eloquently, and to have those ideas be worthy of consideration once they are explained to me. Then I will respect them, and they, knowing they will have done something worthy, will respect themselves. And that is how they will develop self-esteem.

All-in-all, it was an interesting afternoon. I learned a few things, had some fun, and got out of the office for a while.

Sounds like a pretty good Friday afternoon to me.

Have a great weekend everyone.


  1. You know? How some? Kids in school? When they are trying to say something? Say everything? Like, it's a question? That? Totally? Disturbs me. And? I am so glad? That I taught? Oee? Early? Not to do that. But? I caught my Mom? And, TDOW? And, his sister? Doing it? And, I was, like, outraged? And, I said? Do you need me to respond? To every comma? To make sure? That I'm listening? Because it's insulting. And? You all sound stupid? So quit doing it.

    I used to say 'like' way too much. TDOW did, too. When we met, we made our own heads spin. We don't say 'like' very much anymore.

    Good post! I'd be nervous, too. But, I'd practice. lol.. that helps with the whole nerves thing. Confidence.. who knew.

    Happy you got a day off! :)

  2. Thanks, Penny, it was nice to get away for a bit. I encounter that sort of question mark at every comma speech as well. I used to have a secretary who did that. Marvellous worker, very bright, but her speech would drive me nuts.

  3. Thanks much for the skillful vivisection of the "...and this one time, at band camp..." issue. From your fingers to God's eyes, Sieg!
    If I never come across another "valley girl" type the rest of my life - which, unfortunately, will never happen - it will be too freaking soon, and I think penny echoes my sentiments.
    I took theology with this one missy who could not stop with the "like"s and the "y'know"s despite the fact she never set foot in California. It doesn't exactly present one as the master of their mind, but then this is from an "um, uh" king in the public speaking realm.

  4. Everyone refers to others as "you guys"; it's so annoying! I was one woman in a group of men this morning, and someone came by saying, "Good morning, guys." One of the men said, "What about her?" I'm not offended, I just think there's a better way to greet people. Even the waiters and waitresses in our area refer to the customers at their tables as "you guys." I'm like, a little, um, worried about grammar in general, d'ya know what I mean?

  5. i, um, totally, like do not know what you mean by this, at all. i mean, like, really.

  6. I saw a couple communicating at a Wal-Mart store over the weekend. Actually, she was doing all of the communicating, and rather forecefully at that. One or both of them was deaf, so the communication was in sign langauage. I wonder if there are signs for 'um' and 'ah' and all of the other verbal irritants that we have been discussing here?