The Power of UMHH…..

The spoken word is quite powerful. This has been exemplified since the time of creation – “And God said, ‘Let it be’ and it was. And it was good.” Ever since the beginning of time we people have understood the power behind what comes out of the mouth.

Even when what comes out of our mouth isn’t words – but gutteral sounds. Like “wha?”, “huh?”, “Ooooooh”, and “umhh”. Each suggests emotional response that, left unguarded and unmanaged, defy our ability to appear honest. These expressions fall out of our mouths and lend transparency to our feelings, even (and especially) at those times we seek to express the opposite.

Imagine a board room setting with major players around the table facing a solitary intruder in their space – the sales professional. Although intent on getting agreement, this sales professional has little confidence and feels out of their league. When asked to share the sales pitch, the individual stammers, “umhh” between every phrase, fighting for solid footing yet sensing only disinterest, distrust and denial from those who may actually need the product/solution yet won’t agree to it. Why? UMHH has a powerful impact on listeners.

That solitary word spills out “lack of confidence”. It signals emotional overwhelm, lack of preparation, inarticulate expression and therefore propels an immediate action of CLOSED listening. The more the speaker works to create trust and interest on the part of the listeners, the more the listener confirms the attitude of unwillingness to pay further attention.

Ever used the word? If so, notice the times. Perhaps your time was when you were called on the carpet for an action less-than becoming. Maybe you were guilty. Maybe you were ambushed. What first came to mind was, “Uh oh, I’m in trouble.”

Maybe the time was when you were in front of a group, nervous about speaking, nervous about saying the right thing, or nervous that you don’t look good enough. It’s usually self-doubt moments that lead us to use the word.

Eradicate UMHH. It is a killer, and a powerful one. It stops the results you are after by inspiring listeners to shut down opportunity. It damages your reputation, creates conflict and destroys credibility. There is too much power in that one little word that will lead to damage you don’t want.

You can eliminate these outcomes simply, but not easily. This is a habit that’s hard to break, but guess what? You want to break it. The first step is the hardest in this case. Instead of opening your mouth at those critical times, keep it closed. That’s it. Just keep your mouth closed. Maybe it’s time to continue listening. Definitely it’s time to check your attitude.

Share Button
On January 19th, 2011, posted in: confidence, Delivery, discipline, Self Value, trust by