It's Not Just 20-Somethings--Boomer Men and Women Forget that Goes Means to Go, Not Said

Over the last several weeks, I have listened to many webinars and attended a few conferences. I have heard the word go, or goes in place of the words say and said (respectively) more times than I can count. One of my favorite sentences starts this way, "Well, he goes, like...." and when I see someone who (or hear it via webinar) I consider to be a real pro speak this way it makes me cringe. With all the coaching I have done in my life with speakers, and in preparing countless people for media interviews (radio and television); I now have a great aversion to it.

I really blame all this on my mother, as when I was a child, and used the word goes in place of said she would interrupt me and ask, “Did someone go somewhere? I thought you said goes, so I assume someone went somewhere." I hated that! I got so mad; it’s so funny now!

It is similar to taking cough medicine and making that funny face accompanied with a quick shiver that means "yuk." I am truly at the "nails on a chalkboard" point. I wonder if it is a Boomer thing to try to seem younger, or just a bad habit. When at a local bar and restaurant here in Seattle, that was filled with young 20-somethings up to 50-somethings all filling over half of what they say with poor grammar it makes me wonder. It does not matter where you are--church, grocery store, movie theatre, anywhere--everyone says it. It does not matter if you graduated from Stanford, Harvard, or if you have no education at all. 

In being as transparent and authentic as I can; I am guilty of it myself. I end up making light of it, and correcting myself in some funny way, like yelling "squirrel" and looking off into the distance. I want the person I am speaking with to know I do have a decent brain in that skull of mine. My hope with this post is all of you professionals out there will slow down long enough to realize how you speak, and how you write reflects on your level of professionalism, and your ability to influence.

Now, my Irish American mother would interrupt me here, and say that I also abused "you know" and "like." I am glad she brought this to my attention (at least as an adult I am). Do yourself a favor, and record yourself speaking on a subject you like and play it back. If you don't hear "you know,” "goes," and “like” kudos to you! 

Finally, please remember that the same applies to your writing. There is a time and place to just be "sayin'" and a place to be "saying." Make sure to practice, practice, practice, even if you are seasoned. Don't fall into, "oh, I do this all the time" mode, as you may live to regret it! People walk away and never come back. It is really that powerful.

One more thing I say with love to all you speakers out there: respect your audience, even if you think they may not be as sophisticated as you desire. They will never tell you it bothers them but it does, and here it is: "are you with me?" Oh, and one more: "got it?" Adjust to your audience; don't make them feel they are not up to par or that they lack intelligence. There are other ways to check-in when you are speaking to make sure you have their buy-in and that they understand what you are teaching. Be kind, generous and come from the heart. It amazes me how many out there say that is how they are, and yet the smugness is still alive and well, and they are leading the band with baton in hand.

Many communications schools and public speaking courses used to preach making sure that your audience is paying attention and to ensure they understand by saying these things. People are far more sophisticated than anyone gives them credit for (even themselves). Unless you are speaking Mandarin to an English speaking and writing audience, you should be able to read where they are by their body language, and the look on their faces. If you end up wondering why no one signed up for your programs after your speech, evaluate how you spoke to them (this could be but one of many reasons of course). 



Lynette Hoy
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