Mindfulness Exercise #1 – Removing Filler Words From Your Speech

In a previous article, I outlined a simple exercise to get you started on your mindfulness journey. It was essentially an exercise in being still, being quiet and “listening” rather than just hearing what is going on around you.

There are however, many ways that you can practise mindfulness throughout your day and today I want to share with you something that I have been experimenting with that is giving me great insights into how I communicate with the outside world.

You see, I’ve been training myself to eliminate filler words like umm and ahh from my speech and achieving success in this is not as easy as it first seems.

Why is this a mindfulness exercise?

For me, I see the removal of filler words as a mindfulness exercise because in trying to remove the filler words, it forces me to really think (and therefore, be more mindful) before I speak.

I’ve found that doing this experiment requires an acute awareness of my understanding of the conversation I’m involved with and my ability to be eloquent in my participation within the said conversation.

The exercise forces me to stop, to pause and construct my sentences mindfully rather than just blurt something automatically whilst thinking on the fly allowing the dreaded umms and ahhs to fill in the gaps.

I can tell you now, when you start this exercise, it’s going to feel very strange and really uncomfortable at first but remember, it’s not going to be easy (you’re trying to overturn a lifetime habit here), but not impossible to do, just check out this video from communication coach Alex Lyon below…

In the video, Alex goes through his four ways to eliminate filler words from your speech.

They are:

  • Be comfortable with silence
  • Practise as much as you can
  • Replace filler word with “pause”
  • Take a breath

As I practise from now on, I’m certainly going to take more notice of my breath while enjoying the spaces between sentences. This leads me to…

How do I practice?

Well, I practice in two ways. First of all, I try to maintain a stream of consciousness conversation with myself.

The topic can be about anything and I tend to do this when I’m in the car but it’s a challenge to maintain. If possible, record yourself doing this and you’ll be surprised how often you use these filler words without even realising it

Secondly, I try it in a real conversation.

I recommend starting off with a phone conversation first then work your way up to a face to face conversation when your confidence is higher.

As you can see, the benefits of this mindfulness exercise is more than just being aware of what you say at all times. It will give you a new found sense of eloquence.

You’ll feel more confident when you present concepts and ideas to others plus, you’l be more purposeful in your speech and ultimately, in your actions.

Have you found the need to address the overuse of umms and ahhs in your speech? Give this mindfulness exercise a go and let me know what happens.

In the meantime, be still and enjoy the silence,

Corey Stewart
The Calm Life

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Corey Stewart
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