A Movement to Engage, Be Memorable and Make an Impact

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During my first few months at a global tech firm, I was discussing a marketing campaign with a senior executive. I used the word ‘viral’ to describe the level of response we were receiving. He said ‘It may have been successful, but not viral. Viral would mean that the campaign is being shared across channels, receiving millions of views. This campaign isn’t. Please use words that have meaning, there is no need for superlatives.’

In the sting of the moment I didn’t realize the gift I had just received and how powerful his response was.

For more on the art of connecting, check out this  interview  with career executive and connection expert, Laura Varn.

For more on the art of connecting, check out this interview with career executive and connection expert, Laura Varn.

In business as in informal conversation, we tend to describe with gusto, speak with fillers and over use buzz words and superlatives. Already widely despised, ‘um’, ‘er’, and ‘like’ are no-no’s at public speaking organizations across the nation, yet I have begun to shudder at a new list of ‘fillers’ and superlatives. ‘Well’ and ‘so, you know’ and ‘let me think’ and ‘so great’ are fresh on my list. I’ll add ‘viral’ for good measure.

Recently, I caught myself responding to a story during a conversation with someone I had just met with ‘That’s really great.’ And that’s when it hit me.

Filler words, phrases and superlatives water down the conversation, break the connection and ultimately are a sign of one’s inability to listen or be present, feeling unprepared or uncertain, or may convey a blatant lack of interest. In an era of overstimulation, passive aggressive displays of thought via social media channels, and 140-character limitations, we have become wired for blunt, brief interactions as well as the need for overzealous attempts to be seen through the clutter.

There is a better way, and it just might deepen relationships, foster stronger connections and increase conversions of leads to customers. It is a movement to curb the superlatives and reduce the fillers, enabling us in business, parenting, and every-day life to get to the point, be more genuine, and breathe meaning into every interaction.

Jumpstart the Movement

Here is a three-step jumpstart to the #CurbtheSuperlative movement when in any conversation:

  1. Pause briefly, silently, and reflect on the last statement

  2. Respond with relevance

  3. Build a connection or deepen the conversation

To demonstrate, my conversation with the gentleman I had just met could’ve gone like this:

HIM: “And I found a new passion for entrepreneurship after all these years.”

ME: “What do you plan to do next?” (as opposed to ‘That’s really great.’)This three-step movement enables engagement, makes us memorable and may unearth interesting details that could further our connection or deepen our rapport with one another. Imagine the impact on our business, our relationships, our children, our community if we listened, paused and chose our words with purpose.