I know a woman who uses a lot of pet phrases.
And by ‘a lot of pet phrases,’ I mean, ‘Please, dear God, make it stop.’
But however many times a day I hear, “It is what it is,” or “It’s all good,” or “Just sayin’!” — I haven’t said a word about it.
Not. One. Word.
Which just goes to show people can change.
Back in high school, I had a friend who developed the annoying habit of ending all her sentences with “you know?” And this bothered me so much that every time she said it – and I mean every time – I’d say, “No, I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me?”
Which now that I think about it, may explain why I didn’t have more friends in high school.
But that’s not the point of today’s post. Today, I wish to focus on the words and phrases people use when other people are talking.
It’s those little words people say, or sounds they make, in order to prove they’re listening and want to keep the flow of conversation happening. It’s the, Oh yeah, Uh-huh, Mmm-yeah, or I hear ya, combos.
I’ve done some studying into the matter, and I made a few observations:
- These words and sounds are most often used by very friendly extroverts. The more extroverted, the more often they’re employed.
- The inclusion of these words appear to have no relation to the intelligence of the person using them. Geniuses or morons, it makes no difference. As long as they enjoy talking, they use them.
- The words used may vary depending on where the person is from, or even current trends.
- The usage of these words is highly contagious. If a friendly person adds a new word to their repertoire, other friendly folk will soon be saying it as well.
It’s the regional aspect of these phrases I find most interesting. When we lived in the Midwest, it was common for friendly folk to use ‘Sure,’ or ‘Sure, yeah,’ or possibly, ‘You betcha.’ But if you were really on a roll, you might get ‘Sureyeahyoubetcha.’
“You know how it is when someone really gets on your nerves?”
“And you have to put a stop to it, but there’s only so much you can do.”
“I mean, those restraining orders can be such a nuisance.”
Another aspect I find interesting is how people latch on to key phrases and make it their own. For instance, I know a guy who uses the Yeah, but never just one. It always happens in sets of three: Yeah-yeah-yeah.
“So I’ve been thinking a lot about people who have pet phrases.”
“And I’m thinking there’s no way a jury would convict me, right?
“I mean, some crimes are totally justified.”
The beauty of these words is how they make the other person feel validated and understood. They are not alone, their emotions are entirely reasonable, and in this other person they have found an ally.
Lately, I’ve noticed an increase in the usage of “Right?” in conversation. Have you heard this one? It seems to be a variation of the “I hear ya,” or “I’m with ya there.”
I have to admit, I rather like it. I also appreciate the way it’s used in conjunction with other words of conversational encouragement.
“I swear, if I hear ‘It’s all good’ one more time, I’m going to scream.”
“But then I was looking online, and I think I found a solution.”
“So I called up Hit Men R Us, but I swear, all I ever get is their voicemail!”
It should be noted that in nearly all cases, these conversational enhancers are accompanied with a smile, a few nods, and plenty of eye contact. Which probably explains why I don’t use them myself, except occasionally in online comments where eye contact is rarely needed.
But please, don’t let that stop you from using them. Feel free to add Yeah-yeah-yeah, Sure, and You betcha to all your conversations.
Because truly, some of us need all the validation we can get.