STOP Using These 3 Fillers

So you can become more authentic and confident

Consider for a minute, why do people use fillers?

Photo by Afif Kusuma on Unsplash

What’s there to fill?

Photo by Rob Schreckhise on Unsplash

Today, I realized while talking to my friend that people primarily use fillers to hide something about themselves. What people are hiding vary, but it could be anything from:

  • Being afraid of confrontation
  • Being afraid to be seen or stand out
  • Feeling powerless
  • Feeling not enough
  • Being afraid to sound dumb

It can be a whole other mixed bags of reasons.

Sometimes, I even add fillers for positive things: I found myself almost doing that recently. One of my friends organized a birthday dinner, and I genuinely enjoyed the event. The next day, I wanted to send him a message of appreciation, and I almost sent the following:

Yooo <Friend’s Name>, thanks for organizing yesterday! Let me know next time you’re in NYC so we can catch up haha

In bold are words that clearly shouldn’t be part of that message, and I removed them as soon as I caught myself almost sending that.

Overall, we should all stop using fillers. They diminish what we mean, and they end up diminishing who we are. How can one be confident in who they are if they keep diminishing the effect of what they want to say? How can one be authentic if they keep trying to hide themselves?

Three Common Fillers to Let Go

My friend and I discussed multiple fillers. I want to go over the following 3 to demonstrate how these fillers hurt our confidence and authenticity.

(1) “Uh”, “Uhm”, “Like”

One obvious reason why we use this is that having silence while speaking can feel awkward. To avoid the awkward silence, people add in those “uhm”, “uh”, and “like” to fill them up, but let’s dive deeper.

What’s wrong with the awkward silence? One of the reasons why we aren’t ok with this awkward silence is that we aren’t confident that who we are speaking to is actually paying attention. We fear “losing the mic”. If we allow this awkward silence to seep into the conversation, maybe the other person will “take the mic”. If the other person does take the mic, then it could mean that indeed we aren’t interesting enough or compelling enough or worth listening to. For fear of finding out, we add the “uh” and “uhm” and “like” to essentially say, “PLEASE WAIT, I’M NOT DONE TALKING…” Imagine replacing every “uh”, “uhm”, and “like” with this latter statement, doesn’t it shows a true lack of confidence in ourselves? It totally does.

Instead, cut them off completely.

When you do, two things will happen. Sometimes people will “take the mic”. When that happens, it’s one of two things: the person thought you finished your thoughts, or the person is full of themselves and actually doesn’t care what you think. If it’s the latter, I personally choose to spend less time with people like that. If it’s the former, they will usually apologize and let you finish your thoughts.

However and most of the time, people will realize that you’re not done talking. They’ll wait for you to finish your thoughts. They will show that they are listening. Think about it: would they even be having this conversation with you if they didn’t care about what you think and have to say? If you cut off these fillers completely, you’ll beat that fear and realize that you’re someone worth listening to, and that in return will boost your confidence and make you sound more authentic.

(2) “I think”, “my thoughts are”

When we say “I think X, Y, and Z”, we are implicitly saying “other people may think differently, and I could be wrong but I want to have an out in case I get proven wrong here, but X, Y, and Z”—the most important part of that being that we want to have an out if we get proven wrong.

This does mean that we are attaching who we are to whether we are right or wrong about a particular subject.

Instead, say “X, Y, and Z”.

You don’t need a qualifier for what you think. What you say is always what you think, so it’s re-stating a really obvious truth. More importantly though, you don’t need an out in case you are proven wrong. Being proven wrong (1) means nothing about who you are as a person, and (2) it’s actually a really good thing. We need to embrace being wrong more.

Whenever someone tells me, “hey you did this wrong”, I always try to show appreciation for that. When I’m proven wrong, that means that I get to be right from now on. When I’m proven wrong, I learn and improve, and that is one of the most beautiful gift I can receive from someone else—no matter what their intentions were in proving me wrong.

When you embrace being wrong, you show true confidence in who you are as a person. You embrace the fact that you are not perfect because no one is, and you encourage others to embrace their imperfections. In addition, people appreciate someone who accepts their imperfections because it means that it’s OK to be imperfect—which helps with lowering their guards and being more comfortable being who they are. This in return makes you more confident and authentic, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

(3) “Come on”

When we say “come on”, we’re often trying to manipulate the other person into doing what we want without clearly stating what we want. The situation I picture is when someone does something disagreeable to us or says no to something we want, so we say “come on… really?” The part that’s manipulative about it is that it doesn’t add much except for guilt-tripping the other person into feeling bad for the decision or choice they’re making.

Instead, either let it go or actually express how you feel, and remember to have an abundance mentality.

Having the abundance mentality is constantly reminding yourself that you have opportunities, that you have options, and that there will be even more in the future. When you have internalized that, you are a lot less prone to begging for someone to give you what you want—i.e., the person you’re telling “come on” to.

On the flip side, this could be a discussion/argument you’re having with someone you’re close to and what you’re asking for is important that it comes from that person. In that situation, I would suggest expressing how you feel. Don’t say “come on”. Say what you actually mean and what you actually want. Maybe even learn a few tricks from Never Split the Difference. Overall, don’t rely on manipulation to get what you want and allow the other person to make a choice they feel happy with.

With that said, don’t take this too seriously

I’m not trying to become a word police. I’d hate that job anyways! 🥵

With everything in life, there is always nuance. Just because someone says “like” a lot does not mean that they lack confidence: maybe that’s just how they speak. Think about this for yourself as well. You shouldn’t feel bad for saying a few fillers here and there. You shouldn’t feel bad for using fillers at all. What’s important is that you understand why you use them and whether you’re trying to hide or diminish something about yourself. The most important thing being that you should ask yourself whether these fillers are helping you or hindering you from being you true, most authentic, and most confident self.

Hey there, you made it this far! I regularly write on medium about book reviews, philosophical topics, life reflections, or any other topics that peek my interest. If you’d like to be notified whenever I publish a new story like this one, you can subscribe here, and I promise you one thing: these articles will make you think. See you soon and thanks for reading ☺️

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Robert M. Vunabandi

Robert M. Vunabandi

I’m a human, living on earth, and doing Software Engineering. I enjoy reading thoughtful posts, and I like to write! So, here we are.