Apr 25 2016

“So…” answered the Millennial

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!


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.

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Make Today A Great Day For Someone!

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Nov 30 2008

Relax? Yes, but it’s also a great time to get work done!

This is the time


  between waves. 


     Have you ever noticed the utter serenity of the sea in between waves? 

     How much is that like your life and the work you do? 

     Thanksgiving visits and family were here in a tidal wave (perhaps more like a tsunami for some), and gone . . . tiny stones and shells aclatter, scamper down the beach in withdrawal as the tide turns low. 

     Business activity slows incrementally to more of a crawl each day between now and New Year’s when it all grinds to a halt.  Ah, but not for entrepreneurs or manufacturers!  Not for writers!  Not for retailers!  Not for emergency personnel!  Not for those forced out of work by economic uncertainty.   

     This is the time between waves. 

     Now is when small business owners and operators and manufacturing enterprise management can finally take a breather from the year-long pounding of phones, faxes, mail deliveries, media broadcasts, meetings, conferences, emails, text messages, trade shows, endless travel itineraries, and industry reports, and get some real work done.

     Now is when their attentions shift to strategizing, planning, scheduling, catch-up reading, assessing, courtesy-calling, audits and inventories, and getting ready for the next big wave in January. 

     Writers?  Yup!  Now is when writers can drop back from their day-to-day discipline and actually review what they’ve done; this time between waves is the perfect time to edit and polish and prepare to get the manuscript or feature story done, to get an agent, get a publisher, get a direction for developing more freelance work. 

     Retailers?  Let’s not even go there.  This between waves time is “make it or break it.”  No time even to think. 

     Emergency personnel?  We all know that emergencies never stop and, if anything, they increase dramatically during the holiday season . . . and afterward, especially during the depression-heightened month of January! 

     So holidays mean relaxing business ebbs for some, and ulcerous anxieties for others.  Where are you right now?  You’re definitely not a retailer or EMT or ER nurse because you’d never have time to read this. 

     So since you are reading this far, it might be useful to remind yourself to make the choice to take full advantage of being between the waves.  It’s easy to get caught up in nonproductive activities, but you won’t get this valuable “down time” back until –maybe– the end of next year!  DO relax, but don’t fade away.        

     If you’re out of work, don’t count yourself out and head for the bridge.  You have the ability to pull yourself back up, kick yourself in the butt (a bit tricky, but not impossible for most!), and propel yourself forward back into the job market. 

     Remember that every problem that a company has is an opportunity for you to find the job that’s right for you, either in that company or another.  Stop beating yourself up.  Get focused.  And go for it!  Make it happen!  You can do it if you really want to.  All behavior is a choice.  Choose to make it easy


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Hal@Businessworks.US   302.933.0116

Open  Minds  Open  Doors

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

One response so far


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