One of the most common verbal habits we hear these days is the ubiquitous “So, um…” It usually comes before the speaker gets into their first point or next thought. It’s a verbal security blanket that fills the space between paragraphs, so the speaker doesn’t ever really pause.
I’ve thought about where this comes from, why the “so” has crept into our speech patterns. My observation is that “so” feels like it smooths the way into speaking. We can feel awkward just beginning; we want to dip our verbal toe in the water to establish that it’s our turn to talk, and “so” allows us to do that.
As with most habits, a little “so” is no big deal. But the problem comes in when the speaker is unaware of how often he says it, and it begins most new thoughts or answers.
What would it feel like to simply start speaking, with no preamble?