Saturday, 28 January 2012

jan 28, 2012

tonight marks vocabulary post #2!

if you're just now jumping into this blog, below is a little snippet from vocab post #1, to give you some context... (originally posted here on january 5th)

recently, i've been sifting through my vocabulary. similar to a pair of jeans that develops holes from consistent wear, there are words that wear on us, culturally speaking, and they need to either be mended or thrown out.

today, i'm mending my relationship to the verbal tic, "you know?". this phrase fragment tends to be tacked onto the ends of sentences to solicit feedback that reassures the speaker rather than furthering discussion on the topic at hand. it's a pretty dysfunctional way of conversing, and i, for one, want to stop doing it.

the way i see it, adding "you know?" onto the end of your thoughts is a way of externally establishing validity of thought, opinion, feeling - and, at the extreme end of the spectrum, validity of self. it's about more than checking in with the person you're talking to; more than simply asking if you're being understood and followed and listened to. as far as i'm concerned, this habit is about asking, "is it okay that i feel that way or think that?" or "am i crazy?" it's an outward expression of self-conciousness that, for me, tends to creep into social scenarios where i'm trying especially hard to connect with people. it also comes out when i'm feeling shy. in these moments, i may be acting outwardly gregarious, but using "you know?" is a sign that i'm having doubts about word choice, for example, or the appropriateness of the story i'm telling.

will you join me, dear & lovely readers, in adjusting how this phrase is used in your life? for me, it's an old habit (if a part-time one), so this is going to take more doing than just removing the diminishing form of "just" from my vocabulary like in my last vocab post.

of course, there are LOTS of appropriate contexts for asking if someone knows something - for example, when you're asking for directions, or whether two friends at a party know each other. but, in those cases, you'll notice the words "you know" appear as part of a complete sentence that has contextual meaning beyond the self-consciousness of the speaker.

when it comes down to it, less self-consciousness = better conversations. will you join me in this mending challenge? as a bonus, how about assuming that each person you talk to understands and follows you and thinks you're a valid human being with interesting things to say? try out this mindset for a couple days and see how it feels. oh, and if you're already thinking this about yourself - you're a rock star! keep up the good work!


  1. Hm, that could be tricky if I tried it. Good luck :D

  2. I like it when you say y'know. Probably because you excel at eye contact. I can see it being undesirable over the phone or in other contexts.

  3. Thanks Celynne! And nice of you to say so, Ms. Jade :)