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9 verbal tics that are surprisingly common, but make people seem nervous and insecure

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9 verbal tics that are surprisingly common, but make people seem nervous and insecure

There is a fine line between speaking confidently and revealing signs of nervousness.

These signals often come in the form of verbal tics: small, unintentional phrases or sounds we make when we feel anxious.

These tics are surprisingly common, yet they can unintentionally create an impression of insecurity.

In this article I reveal 9 of these nervous verbal tics. And while you may not even realize you’re using them, once you become aware of them, you can start to change your speech habits.

Get ready to learn how to present a more confident version of yourself in any situation. Welcome to “9 Nervous Verbal Tics That Are Surprisingly Common, But Make People Appear Nervous and Insecure.”

1) “Eh” and “uh”

We all know these little interjections. They creep into our speech when we are unsure, nervous, or just trying to gather our thoughts.

“Um” and “uh” are among the most common verbal tics. They are essentially filler sounds that we use when we think about what we are going to say next.

In some cases, they can even become a habit, peppering our even sentences when we’re not particularly nervous.

But the thing is, these little words can make us seem insecure and insecure. They subtly suggest that we don’t quite know what we’re talking about.

And while it’s not always easy to eliminate them from our speech, being aware of them is the first step to speaking with more confidence.

So the next time you’re about to say something, take a moment. To breathe. And try to keep the ‘uh’s and ‘uh’s to a minimum.

2) Excessive apologizing

Apologies have their place, but if they become part of your vocabulary, they can make you seem insecure.

I remember one time I was giving a presentation at work. I was a little nervous and found myself repeatedly saying, “I’m sorry if this is confusing,” or “Sorry if I’m going too fast.”

In retrospect, these excuses served no purpose. They just communicated my lack of confidence in what I was presenting.

Over time, I’ve learned that it’s better to focus on clarity and pacing rather than preemptively apologizing. If someone is confused, they will ask. There is no need to apologize for this in advance.

Remember: you have the right to speak and take up space. Don’t diminish your presence with unnecessary excuses.

3) Talk fast

When we are nervous, our heart rate increases and our breathing becomes faster. This physiological response can often translate into rapid, angry speech.

In fact, a study from Princeton University found that listeners view fast talkers as less trustworthy. Research shows that when we speak too fast, it can be difficult for others to keep up, causing them to doubt the accuracy of what we say.

Slowing down your speech not only makes you sound more confident, but also makes your message more credible and clear. Taking a moment to pause between thoughts can make a world of difference in how you come across.

4) Vocal box

Vocal Fry is a low, crackly vibration in your voice that occurs when your vocal cords are relaxed. It has become a popular speech pattern, especially among young women, and can sometimes be used to sound more casual or relaxed.

But the point is: research has shown that voice can be perceived negatively, especially in professional environments. It can come across as if you’re insecure or insecure, and it can even make people take you less seriously.

So while it may feel natural or trendy to speak this way, be aware that it could potentially affect the way others perceive you. Try to keep a natural, clear tone when speaking, especially during important conversations or presentations.

5) Fidgeting

While not a verbal tic in itself, fidgeting can be a physical manifestation of the nervous energy we feel inside. You may find yourself tapping your foot, twirling your hair, or constantly adjusting your outfit.

This nervous energy can distract from what you are saying, making you seem less confident and more anxious. And while it may seem like a difficult habit to break, simply being aware of your body language can make a big difference.

The next time you find yourself in a nerve-wracking situation, try channeling that energy into maintaining good posture or using hand gestures to emphasize your points. This not only makes you appear more confident, but also strengthens what you say.

6) Self-mockery

We’ve all done it: made a joke at our own expense to lighten the mood or seem more relatable. And while a little self-deprecation can be endearing, too much of it can create an impression of insecurity.

It’s like you’re constantly telling the world that you don’t take yourself seriously, so why should they? Over time, these jokes can unintentionally undermine your self-esteem and others’ perceptions of you.

Remember, there’s a big difference between being humble and constantly putting yourself down. You are valuable, and your words should reflect that. Be kind to yourself in your speech – you deserve it.

7) Avoid eye contact

Eye contact can be intimidating. I remember when I first started speaking at public events, I found myself scanning the room instead of making direct eye contact with my audience.

It was like I was trying to hide behind my words and avoid the connection that eye contact can create. But over time I’ve learned that eye contact is a powerful tool of communication. It not only conveys trust and sincerity, but also helps create a connection with your audience.

While it’s not necessary to maintain constant eye contact (which can be nerve-wracking for both you and the other person), you can try looking people in the eye as you speak. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but with practice it can become second nature.

8) Use filler words

Filler words like “like,” “you know,” and “so” can easily find their way into our speech, especially when we’re nervous or unsure of what to say next.

Although they may seem harmless, overusing these words can make us seem less confident. They can make our speech seem unfocused and our listeners question our credibility.

The key to reducing filler words is awareness. Once you start noticing them, you can work on pausing and collecting your thoughts instead of filling the silence. It may take some practice, but it can significantly improve the way you communicate.

9) Negative self-talk

This may be the most damaging verbal tic of all. Negative self-talk refers to the critical and often harsh inner dialogue we have with ourselves.

This includes statements like “I’m not good at this” or “I always screw up.” While you may think these are harmless, they can have a profound impact on your self-esteem and how others perceive you.

The problem with negative self-talk is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more often you tell yourself you’re not good enough, the more likely you are to believe it.

So be mindful of how you speak both to and about yourself, in your thoughts and out loud. Remember that you are capable, you are worthy, and you can do this.

Closing thoughts

The complex world of human communication is full of subtleties and nuances.

These nervous verbal tics are more than just habits: they are a mirror that reflects our inner emotions and insecurities.

But remember: being aware of these tics is the first step to overcoming them. And every step you take on this journey brings you closer to presenting a more confident, authentic version of yourself.

These changes will not happen overnight. It takes time, practice, and patience to rewire years of speech patterns.

But don’t be too hard on yourself. After all, we are all human and it is okay to show some vulnerability.

In the words of Leonard Cohen: “There is a crack in everything. This is how the light comes in.”

So let’s embrace our imperfections, work on our nervous tics, and let our light shine through.

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