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Speaking Habits, How Are Yours?


‘Innit’, ‘like’ and ‘basically’ are cited as the most annoying filler words in British conversation


We are a nation of under-confident speakers, littering our sentences with pointless words and “fillers”. “OK”, “err” and “right” are the top 3 fillers we use, and whilst two-thirds of people admit to using them (60%) it seems we’re really irritated when others use pointless words too.  

Top of the annoying list are “innit”, “like” and basically but “literally”, “actually” and “kind of” aren’t far behind. 

Research into the area, on behalf of the app gweek, suggests as well as being considered tiresome, inserting meaningless words and phrases into our everyday speech leads others to believe filler users are less intelligent, less educated and lacking in people skills.

The study discovered that two-thirds of individuals (60%) resort to pointless fillers on a regular basis, with nearly one-quarter of respondents (23%) lacking the self-awareness to know they are actually using filler words at all.

Over half (55%) of Brits would even opt for text over talking as we hate the sound of our own voices!

As to the circumstances in which people actually use filler words, more than half (53%) admitted that they tend to creep into conversation when they’re embarrassed, with 33% confessing to using them when they have to deliver bad news.

Have trouble spotting a fibber? Listen out for filler words: 21% of women use fillers when telling a ‘white lie’, compared to 15% of men.

The study also revealed further stark male and female differences, with women (67%) using them more than men (52%).

Situations such as first dates tend to send men into a ‘filler frenzy’ with 28% saying they would use filler words on such an occasion compared to 15% of women. More than two fifths (44%) of men claimed that their confidence had impacted negatively on delivering a wedding speech, whilst 80% of women said they would only speak in public if they were forced to.


The UK’s most annoying filler words as revealed by the Gweek study were:

1. Innit             47%

2. Like              32%

3. Basically      22%

4. Err                21%

5. You know    20%

6. Uh                 17%

7. Umm            15%

8. Yeah             13%

9. Literally        12%

10. Oooh            10%


The UK’s most used filler words as revealed by the Gweek study were:

1. OK            30%

2. Err            26%

3. Right        22%

4. Umm        20%

5. Actually    18%

6. Anyway     16%

7. Basically    16%

8. Yeah          14%

9. Like            14%

10. Really        13%


Great Brit-um: A nation of unconfident speakers:

Via its in-depth study, gweek discovered that most Brits hate the sound of their own voice (55%). Two thirds (61%) believe the way they speak has negatively affected them at work, with 54% claiming it even cost them a job interview. More than half (56%) of those questioned feel they would have achieved more in life if they’d known how to communicate more effectively, with one quarter claiming it had a negative impact on their love life. And when we do need to make a phone call, we’re definitely not fans of leaving voicemails (31%), indeed 55% would prefer to text than speak.


It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it:

Part of the study included a social experiment into the effect that speaking with confidence can have on how the speaker is perceived by others. The study proved that how we speak carries more weight than what we are actually saying - regardless of whether we’re telling the truth or not.

As part of the research, people were asked to comment on two speeches about Brexit, one factually correct but laced with fillers and hesitations, the other factually incorrect but delivered with confidence and no interruptions.

Far more listeners (57%) thought the person delivering the factually incorrect speech without fillers sounded well educated, in comparison to just 36% of those listening to the factually correct speech delivered with filler words and interruptions. 

Listeners also thought the person delivering the factually incorrect speech had superior people skills (40%), was more intelligent (54%) and attractive (30%). By contrast, only 7% of respondents said they would offer the person delivering the real speech with hesitations a job in a senior role. Both speeches were in fact delivered by the same person.


Public speaking and the art of conversation fall into a similar category if you're interested in sharpening up your public speaking skills come to our free Biz Breakfast on the 2nd October where public speaking guru Ges Ray will be our speaker and you'll get inside tips on how to enhance your skills


About Gweek

Gweek is already a leading tool within the corporate world and has revolutionised the way businesses equip key members of staff to communicate efficiently - and most important naturally.  Today sees the launch of the app to the consumer market, helping gweek fulfill its mission to teach the world to communicate effectively in life, love, and work.

Let's Talk: Speaking habits, how are yours?

Biz spoke to Author of "The Art Of Conversation" Catherine Blyth on our speaking habits and conversation fillers like "Umm, basically and init?" cited among the most annoying, are we stuck in our ways or are we open to change?