One great thing about being a member of Toastmasters is that it helps you to become not only a good speaker, but also a great listener. I find myself catching successful business leaders (and otherwise good speakers) saying “um” and “uh” frequently. At our club, members can be heard saying, “you know” quite often. But, perhaps, the most overused word that I hear on a daily basis is “like.”
I remember the first time my uncle, a former college professor, heard me repeat “like” several times in a conversation. He later wrote me a letter telling me I wasn’t using the word correctly. Up until that point, I was not aware that I repeated “like” frequently. I got the message and from that point on, I've made an effort to not overuse “like.”
Just as hedge words such as “it seems,” “I guess,” and “I believe” tend to make a speaker seem less confident in their statement or opinion, the word “like” makes a speaker sound less polished and credible.
According to a segment from Good Morning America Weekend, linguists say that “like” is not as misused as we think. While it may not be misused, it is definitely overused. The key to eliminating “like” is to be aware. Listen to conversations around your cubicle, at meetings, with your kids. Listen to yourself. With a great deal of vigilance, we can cut down and minimize this bad, four-letter word.
One of my favorite performance poets, Taylor Mali, has spoken about this on Def Poetry Jam a few years back...How about you...how do you feel about "like?"