So, Right?

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Recently, Eloqui ran a Communication Immersion workshop in Santa Fe. As participants ran through various exercises, the use of right? and so were rampant, ultimately becoming humorous because of how difficult they were to eliminate. Then on Sept. 1st, we saw an article in the NY Times by Daniel Hermann on this very subject.

Hermann wrote that so and right? are nervous filler words and are used instead of a pause. Moreover, research shows that speakers who frequently use them are perceived as less professionally competent, less mature, and less intelligent. Hermann also states that TED speakers use right? because they don’t care what their audiences have to say-- they just want confirmation of what they’re saying. We’ve read that Mark Cuban and Mark Zuckerberg suffer from “severe rightness.” They rattle off confident pronouncements, then ask for affirmation by finishing their comments with right?.

Beginning every sentence with “So” is the new stand-in for um, well, like or what linguists call discourse particles. They are inserted to fill dead space and are verbal junk. Be aware of how these two word-devils damage the material you spend so long putting together and how they may reflect poorly on you. Yes, they are hard to eliminate. But in life, most things worth doing are difficult.

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