A little critique

Friday, September 28th, 2007 | Screed!

Our “War Room” conference room here at work is on the other side of the wall from my desk. Despite the fact that while you’re in the room it looks like you’re in an enclosed room, you’re actually not. The walls don’t go to the ceiling and there’s a curtain, rather than a solid wall at one end. Ergo, I hear most of the conversations that go on in there. (This is the part where my coworkers make mental notes not to have private conversations in there any more.)

Lately, there have been several interviews going on in the room. Every single person who’s been interviewed so far (and also many of the interviewers) need a little sit-down about their seeming inability to go more than two sentences without using the word “basically.” (This goes double for the interviewee in there now. I’ve caught her three times using sentences that start with “basically” and then also contain it later in that same sentence. It’s making me nuts.)

I don’t know when exactly this word got to be the new “um” — certainly it’s been a few years already — but it needs to stop. It makes a person sound less competent than they likely are. If you’re answering a question in an interview, you’re probably giving a summary of your talent/activity/qualifications. “Basically” is implied in the fact that it’s a summary. Preceeding every sentence with it makes you sound like you’ve got no real skills and that you don’t want the secret to get out, but a 6-week-old monkey could probably do your job. That’s really not the impression you want to give to a prospective new employer. (Don’t even get me started on how irritated I am when I catch someone using it while describing a concept or giving a presentation to a client.)

And I see I’m not the only one bothered by this. The Wisconsin State Journal had a nice little article on it. (From four years ago, yet. Look how behind the curve I am in my annoyance. How unlike me.)

I’ll be the first to admit, I will occasionally overuse words. But I can’t think of any word I use as often as many people use “basically.” I think I’d rather hear “um.” (But really, neither is best. Let’s try for neither.)

2 Comments to A little critique


I just ran across this and thought of you:


I overuse “like” way to much. I need to stop. I annoy myself.

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