July 16, 2010

Not "Sort Of"..."Definitely!"

I'll admit to picking up some of the verbal tics that circulate in our culture. I say "you know" when I should simply pause as I form my words.

But there is one tic that has become prevalent which bothers me much more: "Sort of." This is different than "you know" "like" or "ummm."

"Sort of" or "kind of" softens and qualifies whatever it is we are saying. It's as if we're not confident to just state what it is we wish to communicate.

Example from this morning's New York Times:
Phil Mickelson played through tough conditions, finishing at one-over 73. "It kind of affected my attitude a little bit," he said.
Kind of? A little bit? The guy finished ten strokes off the lead!


Stefanie said...

What do you think of the use of the phrase "not a problem" as said by people in customer service after they do something for a customer. I have a problem with "not a problem." It gives the hint that what I have requested IS a problem, but other people don't seem to mind it and the phrase is apparently here to stay.

Eric Riback said...

"Not a problem" and "no worries" are pet phrases of the millennials, and these days that's a lot of whom we encounter at retail and customer service. I agree with you, it doesn't sit well. To me, old stand-bys such as "I'm happy to take care of that for you" and "thank you" worked very well. And while I appreciate the good wishes, telling me to "have a great day" is unnecessary.