Eradicate The Word 'Like' From Your Professional Vocabulary

Using "like" a lot in sentences is moderately acceptable in social situations (even though you might end up sounding like a bratty teenager) but it can kill your credibility in a workplace. If you want to ditch your love of "like" to appear more professional at work, read on for some practice advice on how to do so.

Business woman speaking at conference image from Shutterstock

Over at The Muse, Aka Frost went on her own personal journey to eradicate "like" from her professional vocabulary as it was preventing her co-workers from taking her seriously. She underwent a four-week experiment on changing her bad speech habit and found that there were plenty of words to substitute in for "like" in various situations:

  • Replace "like" with action verbs such as "responded", "answered" and "commented". Example: "He was like, 'Yes, we can do this'" to "He replied, 'Yes, we can do this'".

  • For describing moods and attitudes, replace "like" with "I was" or "I felt"

    Example: "I was like, annoyed because…" to "I felt annoyed because…"

  • Avoid using "like" for comparisons and example and jump straight to using "such as" and "for example".

    Example: "I found a few errors in this report. Like in this column, you entered…" to "I found a few errors in this report; for example, in this column.

  • While not ideal, using the word "ah" as a filler for when you're speaking is better than "like".

You can read more about Frost's experiment over at The Muse.

[Via The Muse]


    Eradicate The Word 'Like' From Your Professional VocabularyJesus, just eradicate the word completely. It has become so virulent, I cringe when anyone is interviewing or being interviewed on the telly, let alone people on the street.

    Also, why ist that the hypertext buttons don't work properly anymore, sooo irritating.

    Last edited 12/02/16 10:12 am

    Well when are we meant to use the word then? It’s like as if people are against it just because it was also hijacked for teenage vernacular in the 90’s.
    Anyhow, Hitchens wrote an article that I quite like, about ‘like’:

      I was listening to someone, I can't remember who, on the ABC News the other day and he was using "you know" more than one in each sentence. Between the two, it's fingernails down a chalkboard to my ears and just horrible to hear. The word "like", is a filler word just as "you know" is but they are painful to listen to because it's just lazy speech and an indictment on modern day education.

      Last edited 12/02/16 11:27 am

        Someone was saying that when people use those words alot, example like, um, you know, its actually a form of giving yourself a sec to think of what to say next or brain to catch up. It was something along those lines. I'm guilty of doing it and hate when i do but a friend would always do it and then i started doing it without realising it.

    The other word that grates on my ear is "so" at the beginning of a sentence, I was listening to ABC radio a few days ago and a young lady scientist was being interviewed, she began every sentence with "So", just SO annoying. It's just the difference between talking to a friend who doesn't care how you speak, compared to a professional who will judge you for the way you use the language.

    Last edited 12/02/16 1:16 pm

    Using “like” a lot in sentences is moderately acceptable in social situationsEw. No it isn't.Replace “like” with action verbs such as “responded”, “answered” and “commented”.Why does it need to be replaced with anything at all?

    “He said, ‘Yes, we can do this'”
    “I was annoyed because…”
    “I found a few errors in this report. In this column, you entered…”

    all work perfectly well.

    “I found a few errors in this report. Like in this column, you entered…”

    Is this not a legitimate use of the word "like"?

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