“So…” answered the Millennial

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Why Millennials and salespeople 

 

need to NOT  start every response 

 

with “So…” and then– to top it off

 

— fail to answer what’s asked. If

 

you’re in the job market, or a sales

 

presentation, it would be like not

 

 taking a shower for a few weeks!

PIG PEN

Q. Who is your very best friend?

A.  So… Jeremy and Charlie and Kim and Sheila are the people I see most often.

———————

Q. What was your Mother’s most important advice?

A.  So… my Mother always made me eat all my cereal.

———————

Q. When did you leave the house today?

A.  So… I never actually went home last night, y’know.

———————

Q. Where do you work?

A.  So… my company is in the city and yesterday I had to drive in.

———————

Q. Why did you do that?

A. So I think there are lots of ways people can respond.

———————

Q. How much money is in your pocket?

A.  So… my wallet is in the car.

Go ahead and ask a reasonable fact-fetching question of one of the 80 million people born between 1977 and 2000.  The odds are good that –no matter how specific your inquiry may be– the answer these days often starts out with “So…” and then proceeds to not give a direct answer.

So WhatDo these “So…” first-responders imply disinterest? Evasiveness? Insecurity? Incompetence? Un-socialability? Dumbness? Distrust? Early dementia? Lack of self-esteem? Poor listening skills? Disinterest? Societal disconnect? Snobbishness? Perhaps some. Perhaps all.

First of all, according to Jane Solomon’s post on DICTIONARY.com, “So” can be used as an adverb, a conjunction, a pronoun, an interjection, or an adjective. And the “spread” of it into popular use today as a sentence opener, especially among young people, is “probably due to the tech boom” and specifically, “programmers,” according to NPR’s Geoff Nunberg. The GRAMMARLY Blog suggests Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is partly to blame for “notoriously using So…’ to start sentences.”

It’s been suggested that “So…” is the new “Um…” or “Uh…” or “Er…” nervous hesitancy used to fill the verbal air while momentarily thinking about what to say prior to responding, but I am doubtful. “Um” and “Uh” and “Er” are simply sounds.

“So” is an actual word. It is a connecting word. It is not a question/ answer connecting word. It is a cause-and-effect connecting word, and is used to connect a thought, word, or action with a consequence.

little girl hand to headA BBC host says that at the beginning of a (non-consequential) sentence, using the word “So” is an attempt “to try to sound important” and “intellectual.” A popular psychologist calls it a “weasel word” used to “avoid giving a straight answer.” Not a good practice for any business, and especially for small business, which is much more vulnerable to “beating around the bush” than corporate types who often seem to thrive on being indirect.

 

FAST COMPANY says “So…” at the beginning of an answer “Insults your audience… Undermines your credibility… and Demonstrates discomfort with the subject matter.”

 

Mark Mason in The SPECTATOR, says it’s due to “accommodation” because we try to be part of groups and often simply do and say things that others in the group do and say. It, he says, “spreads like the flu.” He cleverly ends his (“It’s SO Annoying”) post  on the subject with:

“As ye so, so shall ye reap”

 

So it’s contagious! Some top TV news analysts have begun integrating the (shall we call it) evasiveness into their summary statements. And it’s inching it’s way into the 40+ crowd. Personally, I have no problem with starting a sentence with “So…” unless it’s the beginning of a sentence that is answering a direct question.

Bad Interview

Bottom Line: If someone in a job interview or “sale size-up” meeting says, “So, tell me about your (or the product/service) background, you might consider it an endearing attempt to help you feel comfortable, but if you respond (or answer ANY direct question) by starting with “So…” your job (or sale) prospects may very well be doomed. It can easily be received in the same fashion as you folding your arms and staring at the door! Not giving a straight, direct answer can be taken as a mixed message.

# # #

hal@businessworks.US

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2 comments so far

2 Comments to ““So…” answered the Millennial”

  1. Debbie Schwartzseidon 18 May 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Hal Alpiar,
    My husband and I graduated from OCC in 1976. We were in one of your classes together. You asked us to make a plan for what we want to achieve in the next 10 years. The plan my husband , Matty proposed was met and surpassed 20 fold. We have been married 38 yrs, have 2 boys, and newborn twin grandchildren.
    I always remembered you wrote an Oscar Meyer jingle. Hope you are well. Thank you for the tremendous advice you taught!!!
    Debbie Schwartzseid

  2. Hal Alpiaron 18 May 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Hi Debbie! Thanks for the memories, and for taking the initiative to find my blog and to comment. What a great surprise. I DO remember Matt (and am frankly not surprised that he went on to achieve tremendous success; he seemed to me to have all the right ingredients, even then!) Please remind me of your maiden name. Oh, and by the way, it was the “Armour Hot Dog Song” that I team-wrote with two other creative types and a jingle music guru, but “Oscar” was a close recollection. Anyway, I am flattered that you remember ANYthing from then, so thank you! Congratulations on your family accomplishments and “ain’t grandchildren wonderful?” I would love to hear more anytime. If you’re so inclined, Feel free to call me at the number at the end of each post (if you still do such a thing . . . my grandchildren frown when I suggest a call, assuming they take their heads up from texting long enough to respond at all ;<) Your message made my day. Have a great weekend ahead, and best to you and to Matt. Hal

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