Often when we speak to people, we feel a tendency to fill silences with filler words such as “so,” “uh,” “um” and “like.” We don’t know why, but it sort of just comes out as word vomit when we’re not sure what to say. In Raheal Neequaye’s FUSE article “Something to, like, um think about,” she dives into the reasons why people use filler words.

All these filler words stem from nerves and insecurities. Most of the time, there is some sort of pressure when we use filler words. Whether it’s a presentation for a class or talking to someone you like, it might be daunting to try to keep it together when you feel an immense weight on your shoulders.

But think about the conversations you have with friends and family. Somehow, we become the best storytellers and presenters when we’re around people in our comfort zones. Somehow, we exude confidence in everything we’re saying. Just pretend you’re talking to a friend. We’re all human. What’s the worst that can happen when you speak to people?

And there’s the simplicity of pausing. One of the reasons why we use fillers is because we can’t handle a single second of silence. It’s OK to take a minute to gather your thoughts to come up with a coherent answer. So take a deep breath, slow down your speaking and fake your confidence until you make it.

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