The Purpose of “Um”

I’ve recently noticed comments beneath some of my videos that have pointed out a habit of mine, and in this week’s vlog, I address them. If you like to geek out on science with me, you don’t want to miss it.


  1. MichelleL

    Just listened to this video. My first thought… Ummm helps my brain prepare for what’s coming next. I rely on that “half a second pause”. It’s a lot of information that’s coming my way and it’s all new to me. I NEED the ummm’s people. Second thought , Susan don’t change a thing.

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  2. Deb Rose Chromik

    I use you as my gold standard for speaking. In my world, you use all the right combinations of speech to communicate effectively. You alter the rate and speed of your speech, you vary your tone, you speak beautifully. I love your ums. They do indeed draw attention to things that matter. Return the teleprompter…. your authenticity is beautiful and inspiring and courageous. And I hope contagious. May I someday be as articulate and verbally elegant. I’ve tried what you do. It is not have a gorgeous gift.

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  3. Fiona

    New to respond to these fabulous free vlogs. I have noticed when I am irritated about others habits it is usually when I am irritated with myself. Likewise the very same habits can be mildly amusing if not out and out funny when I am feeling good. I guess you said as much in your blog.
    Thanks always for your generosity in your knowledge and sharing of your personal experiences.

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  4. Leslie


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  5. Deborah Houk

    Funny, I never noticed that you say um a lot. Guess I will have to take your word for it.
    What I really want to say is that you are a role model for authenticity. I think you are the most authentic person I have ever come across. In fact, I don’t even do Bright Line Eating but I watch your vlog regularly. I have come to respect your honesty, integrity and grit. So stay true to yourself and keep the ums and the difficult topics coming. Somebody has to tell it like it is and back it up with research. Thank-you!

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  6. Carole B

    I love your ums. Makes you more authentic. I was in Toastmasters and hated being rated for my ums and other filler words.

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  7. Erin

    Thank you Susan.

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  8. Judy S

    Please don’t ask me how often I say “like.” 😉

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  9. Beth A

    It was my understanding “Um” was a sign of intelligence from the perspective of explaining complex thought as you mention. Um…I’m enjoying the journey of understanding the Bright Lines concepts.
    Thank you for sharing .

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  10. Judy Fuller

    Dear Dr. Susan, so glad I finally got around to reading this latest vlog! You certainly have my vote, “Yes,” for continuing to use “um” as necessary …whether or not there was research to “back up” it’s validity!! Sometimes we need a pause in both our speaking (like using “um”) and our life (like a time of prayer, meditation, vacation, etc.) to simply collect ourselves before going on wth the point or the busyness of life, again! Apparently, research indicates we certainly NEED the pauses we use, and if we aren’t using such then there just may be a lack in our own life that needs addressing! Thank you, again, for your expertise. 😉

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  11. Christine Riederer

    Um, thank you, Susan! I ever noticed your “ums” EVER. I have noticed when you look up and to your right, which is what I do when I am thinking about something important. I realize now that this does coincide with some of your ums. However, as a long-time speaker and practitioner in Health Education and Health Studies, I am so amazed at how little you do use ums. Love that these are incorporated into your speaking whenever appropriate. I believe that is part of why so many of us can relate to you so well – you are natural and spontaneous, and at the same time you always bring us impeccable research findings and valuable lessons in life. Um, thank you Susan Peirce Thompson.

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  12. Dee

    Susan, This weekly Vlog on “um” was an incredible eye opener, awareness, and you were so vulnerable authentic and really drove your message home. Hats off to uou Lady! Ps Im still trying to get use to your hair longer. Its pretty although your short hair I loved really matched your confident vulersble nitty gritty awesome personality. You ate simply amazing!! Xo

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  13. Dana

    My favorite thing about this particular blog is the fact that for the past 18 months that I have been watching these Vlogs every week, I have constantly and repeatedly commented to my husband and others, “Holy moly, how does she so affectively record these vlogs without saying ‘ummm’ all the time?! She just rolls and goes and articulates things so brilliantly….and never says ummm.” I literally laughed out loud at the title of this vlog and chuckled all the way through because my thoughts have been so opposite of other viewers. I find that fascinating. I guess we will always find what we are “looking for”. And there will always be others who see/interpret things differently than us! Thanks again Susan for being such a “North Star” in my life…..a guide and constant. Ummm away, it just gets me listening better.

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  14. Pal-pip-we

    (I apologize in advance for being off topic here, but I have a pressing question for not only Susan Peirce Thompson Ph.D., but also the BLE community at large, and because I’ve just read the book and can’t afford the Boot Camp and I’m also not on social media, this is the only place I know to ask)

    And let me first say, I AM SO HAPPY BECAUSE AT AGE 60, (after 57 years of overeating & overweight), I AM EXPERIENCING TRUE ** GLORIOUS ** FREEDOM FROM BINGEING AT NIGHT AND OBSESSIVE FOOD/WEIGHT THOUGHTS!!! Only 9 days/nights in and I know this is the path that will set me free. Because it already has.

    Believe me I could write forever about what Susan Peirce Thompson’s brilliant (but formerly very sick!) brain and has meant to me. Her journey and her honest sharing….. aaarg, it’s hard to find the words right now. I cherish the 4 bright lines because I’m living in my lovely Bright Box, and this is my best life.

    Here is my question: COULD YOU PLEASE LOOK FURTHER INTO ADDICTION TO DAIRY FOODS? Or, have you written about this and I just can’t find it? I feel very lucky to I know that this is a problem for me and to have included dairy among the foods I avoid 100%.

    Are other Bright Line Eaters needing to avoid dairy too? For me, just the WORDS butter
    sour cream
    melted cheese!
    milk (w/cake or cookies)
    would trigger me if I was being triggered these days, ha!

    Anyone else experience this?
    Thank you. Gratefully, Pamela Alice Lortie Paradis Infinite Paths Wolf Evans,
    OR Pal-pip-we

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Hi Pamela! It sounds like you feel strongly that you are suffering from a dairy addiction! We applaud the fact that you are embracing what you will need to do in order to have peace with food! Not all people have problems with dairy, though it’s certainly is sounding as if you self-identify as somebody who does! Woo hoo for self knowledge!!!!

      There are a couple of well-known, highly regarded whole food plant-based doctors who have weighed in on the addictive nature of dairy. You may want to check them out: Dr Neal Bernard and Collin Campbell. Sure hope that helps you, friend <3

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  15. Josephine

    I love your blogs, and don’t mind about the ‘ums’ or ‘the you knows”. The idiom I don’t like, and I know that it is used A LOT by people, especially the youngsters in England, is “like”. It has wormed its way into the English language, and sometimes is used many times in the same sentence!! It really is irritating, and doesn’t seem to have any meaning except a device to give the speaker time to express their point on a different slant. Having said all that Susan, I really don’t mind your use of ‘like’.

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  16. Cheryl (Ruby) Kikkert

    Nice , gentle y informative response to unnecessaary, critical comments. I admire the way you handle matters like this – you’re so non threatened. I’m trying to model in my life. Like “oh, that’s so interesting” instead of “are you frigging nuts!” A work in progress

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  17. Jason

    Hi Susan, I’m not a BLE member, I barely register on the susceptibility scale but I’m a regular follower and your vlogs have impacted me in more ways than I can say.
    I got involved to get information to pass on to family members (as frustrating as that can be for 2 to try to understand a 10) who could benefit from the awareness and clarity you bring. I had no idea you would change my world.
    I like the short hair, I like the long hair, I like the eye rolling and the sarcasm, I don’t mind the ums and the likes… I’m in awe that you can stand in front of a camera or an audience and flow as you do. I dare any of the nitpickers to try a 60-second speech in front of a mirror and execute a narrative that makes any sense.
    It’s easy to criticize when you’re on this side of the camera.
    Thanks to you I have applied Bright Lines in my life that are not all related to food (I do have NMD’s and NMF’s that have become almost on autopilot) and your Reboot Rezoom has helped me deal with the ups and downs in all aspects of my life. I realize that the majority of your followers are women but I’m willing to bet that you didn’t expect to impact the life of a 65-year-old male in areas not related to food.
    Thank you Susan for helping me on my journey to mindfulness. Please keep doing what you do.

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      Hi Jason! Wow! Thanks for chiming in and telling us about you and why you’re here! We are happy to have you! <3

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  18. Pamela

    There’s some interesting irony in this video. The subject matter is on a (subjectively) innocuous word in our language that signifies impending significant speech to follow. Well, the video itself started off rather innocuously and then POW 💥 you hit me with a rather mind opening, thought stopping way of looking at my life and solving my own problems. It went and got significant in that second half. Find the lessons. Solve the problems. Thanks!

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  19. Susan

    Would saying, “you know” or “like” be the same thing as saying “um”?

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  20. Cindy Rinaman Marsch

    I FEEL SO VALIDATED! Several years ago I taught 8th and 9th graders online with only audio and Power Point slides from me and a chat box for them (always running, by the way). I once got an evaluation from my “principal” who kept score during my presentation of the number of times I said “okay.” He then reported to me that I said that more than other teachers did, in general, and he had little else to say about my lesson (90 minutes, by the way). For me, the “okay” had to substitute for all the body language and eye contact I would have had in a normal classroom, and I think it was a pretty darned good transition when I was ready for them to do something with me! Right–this wasn’t a straight lecture, but an interactive “classroom” that required me to interact with them in real time. Such a frustrating teaching evaluation, I tell ya! That guy must be retired by now, but you’ve helped me process a bad memory. 🙂

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    1. Bright Line Eating

      That sounds like a tricky set up and like you made the best of it, Cindy! <3

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  21. Joan Lucas

    SPT, once again you’ve shown how BLEing is sooooo much more than changing food habits. You are helping us change our lives for the better with tools for behavior change, science and modeling authenticity. Thank you for being you 🙏

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  22. Fay Thompson

    Hi Susan. I wondered what was coming up when I saw that this week’s vlog was about um. As always, it turned out to be fascinating. I love it when you describe the experiments that have gone on in the various university labs. Actually, I have never noticed that you say um very much. Right from the start, though, I have loved the way you are so natural and authentic when you’re recording. It makes me feel you’re one of us, so please leave the autocue in the box.

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  23. Antony

    I’m not concerned either way with the ums or without the ums or the feedback that inevitably comes for grammer corrections all the time. Having said that, I never knew about this particular aspect of our use of language/speech and have learnt something new today! Thank you. I appreciate all the free content, lessons, interviews and introductions you make to others that you provide. The world will continue to change and improve from contributions like yours.

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  24. Kate

    I love your vlogs and really hadn’t noticed the “ums”. Last night I couldn’t find your vlog and was concerned because it is part of my routine … and missing your vlog was much more worrisome to me than how often you use “um”. I love the science and I love BLE … thanks for the great lesson in this vlog!

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  25. Eileen

    I have been a Bright Liner since mid January 2019 and live for the weekly vlogs. I’ve thought about commenting in the past but haven’t done so; the criticism of um motivates me to chime in. I have noticed the use of um as well as your wink at close and expression at start. I love it all. I am endlessly impressed with your ability to speak so smoothly about such challenging topics. I appreciate all of these nuances as well as your use of hands as you speak. Always interesting, motivating and endearing. I am doing well with this journey and I thank you for sharing your brilliance. I’d love a monthly Bright Line magazine and would subscribe. One final comment…your teeth are gorgeous!! Again, my thanks.

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  26. Paul Beaulieu

    Thanks, I wonder what my sensitivity to people who over use….aaaaa, similar to umm? I never took notice to your use of umm, hmmmm.

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  27. Carol McCabe

    Thank you! This was so simple, but brilliant! I only followed your initial 14 day challenge 2 months ago and I only by happenstance decided to listen to this tonight. I am so glad I did. So many threads pulled together in a very relevant way for me. I will be sharing this with friends of like-mind. Thank you for your honest and genuine spirit.

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  28. Lex Baer

    Um, so is there research on how words take on new forms? For example with the word “presence.” The word might initially show up as “there is a presence here,” but in a new form becomes “there is another topic I want to presence now”?

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  29. Leanne

    What blows my mind is how you make every topic SO interesting and applicable to Bright Line Eating! You take the most random of topics, sometimes, and then tie it into the message of your program, while additionally spreading the wisdom around to life in general. When you did it in this vlog, I was so surprised that I laughed out loud. Fantastic presentation, and crazily, one of my favorites!

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  30. Pamela Adams

    I never noticed the “um” – just love these vlogs

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  31. Susan J Edwards

    I just want to say, “Susan, you have grrrrreat hair.” I would be so envious if it didn’t give me such pleasure to look at it; plus you are sooo pretty.

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  32. cynthia

    I have been following Susan since September 2017 and have NEVER been bothered by her “um”s. And I have recognized that she speaks without notes or tele-prompter and is therefore totally real & authentic. She is living what she is preaching and is brutally honest even when it may cause (anyone else) embarrassment or humiliation. You are awesome, Susan! Keep doing what you’re doing! Don’t change a thing! Most grateful for who you are!

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  33. ....

    my thought is: what a patronising and entitled attitude does it take to tell another adult how they should speak!!!
    woooooah I m gob-smacked.
    You have the patience of a saint Susan….
    Foremost , thanks for all the interesting info, as always!

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  34. Michelle Gradis, Ph. D

    Love this so much!

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  35. Christie Hardwick

    You are generous to respond to these kind of comments and find a way to turn them into useful lessons and insights. Thank you.

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  36. Mary V. Willcox

    Um. … I was a Competent Communicator in Toastmasters for eight which focuses on speaking, especially with any size of audience. In these cases, as you pointed out, the um may be nervousness. Generally, Americans stray away from silence and the um fills the silence. I wonder if other languages use the um or equivalent as frequently as Americans. I watch your vlog and I see you thinking of how to say something sensitive or something very scientific prior to speaking aloud. Your efforts toward compassionate speaking or science lessons make the um something of importance. Be you, and speak naturally. One of the most important speech craft you employ, looking straight into the camera, improves the delivery of your message much better than any teleprompter.

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  37. Autumn Stevenson

    I love you authentic woman!

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  38. Andrea

    OMG. Your um’s are fine. You nailed the explanation as anyone who does public speaking knows .Those bozo’s who feel the need to complain really need to get a life.

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  39. Paula

    You speak professionally. Indeed, ums serve a valuable purpose as you explaine, as well as allowing listeners to retain more information as they have an extra moment to catch up and store what was just said in their memory. Um seems to have a similar purpose to the comma used in writing. Also, um leaves a gap while signalling the listener that it not yet their turn to jump in with their reply.

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  40. Helen Spingola

    OMG! How petty is this crap about the ums!! Pure crap! Don’t take away the ums Susan, please. They are a part of who you are, and
    who you are is one fantastic super lady!! These people have better things to do I’m sure than complain about ums….including the
    one who carped about you using “right” a bit much. Have never noticed because I concentrate on your message. Much ado about
    nothing, in my opinion.

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  41. Paula

    First, you do not need to defend your “um”. Second I would take live spoken language in a VLOG (so real!!) any day over something more formal and written or even more informal language of a BLOG. This is ridiculous that people would call you out on this and criticize. That said, when I saw the title of the VLOG, as an applied linguist in teacher education working daily with a deep focus on language development, and societal biases in language, politics of language use, etc I appreciate this VLOG for its scientific value, and your LIVE presentation in practical terms set in some reserarch. Your VLOG is chock FULL of all sorts of interesting linguistic components, Susan! I appreciate your explanation of it in response to those who felt empowered to criticize one of them. I appreciate your response and science shared. Further I’ll just share a more socio-critical lens of this criticism on your UM: our language is our identity, our language is power and our language is agency-all the things we are focused on here in BLE. You are true to that. Your VLOGs are you- human, real, responsive, well-intentioned, linguistically systematic and appropriate! Keep up the good work. As others said don’t change a thing. This is a bias you are tackling, as well as a personal call out.

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  42. Tamara Laufer

    It absolutely boggles my mind that anyone would take issue with your “ums”. As I watch your vlog every week I am always so deeply impressed by your spontaneous level of eloquence and articulation. I admire how thoughtfully you address and express sensitive ideas. Often I think of how lucky your college students were to have had such a captivating and brilliant professor before them in a lecture hall. No catching up on missed zzz’s in your classroom! It may not be scientifically proven, but it seems to me that “um” when used normatively, is not only a processing cue for the listener, but is also a indication that the speaker is processing as well and mindfully choosing her words . Keep being awesome and totally, perfectly human.

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  43. robin hay

    Good morning – I watch the vlogs, I think Susan is extremely well spoken, insightful and downright happy.
    I hope everyone pats themselves on the back, takes a deep breath and does a good deed today for someone else and do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next.

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  44. Peter

    I am constantly impressed with your wisdom, compassion, and resilience, Susan. I think I know the answer to this, but I certainly hope you have thick skin and broad shoulders to deal with the endless critiques, complaints, and criticisms you receive. I was teased incessantly when I was in high school – literally everything I did became a joke to those who loved to provoke me – and it affected my self-esteem and attitude for years. Luckily I’ve grown beyond that, but when I hear these vlogs where you have to explain your behaviors, actions, words, etc., my heart goes out to you. You are intelligent, beautiful, caring, compassionate, and inspiring. Don’t ever let the naysayers persuade you otherwise. <3

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  45. Barbara Goodlett

    Wonderful, insightful vlog. with genius
    connection to our eating difficulties.
    Great food for thought.

    But, along with “um,” I’m hearing the constant annoying overuse, by everyone in media, educated or not, of the word “so” at the beginning of their conversations and answers to questions.
    Is this the new ‘um?”

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  46. Deanna

    Brilliant and wonderful! You are a joy to listen to.

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  47. Helen

    Susan, I think you’re UMazing!!!!!!!

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  48. Roni

    Hi Susan, very interesting topic and vlog. I’ve never noticed you umming but rather have always admired your clarity of thought and articulateness. Don’t change a thing!

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  49. YossiD

    Way back in grade school I was taught that “um” is a no-no when speaking, and it has annoyed me ever since.

    After a while, I realized that “um” was a filler that people use to give them some more time to formulate their thoughts. I suspect that people whose brains work faster find themselves using “um” less frequently than others. I, who do not have a quick brain, generally spend more time formulating what I want to say before opening my mouth. The disadvantage is that sometimes I miss my opportunity to say something.

    I am particularly annoyed by newscasters who pepper nearly every sentence with numerous “ums.” When used that much, the significance of “um” as a flag for something important to come is lost. Just like the vast overuse largely of “awesome.” How many things can be truly awesome? If one experiences two or three during a lifetime, I think that’s a lot.

    And while on the subject of annoying speech affectations, when did everything become “like” something else. rather than what it really is? How is “that’s like really beautiful” different from “that’s really beautiful?” Ok, I’m an engineer and technical writer, so I tend to be very picayune and pedantic, but I do believe that our speech is getting sloppier, which seems to reflect the way people in general are acting as well.

    BTW, I’m 61, eat a mostly low-ish carb diet (except when I cheat), run 10k twice a week (depending on weather), and my weight is just fine.

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  50. K.M.

    the art of public speaking is nicer flow w/out ums. i agree susan would serve better dropping them. doesnt matter what they “mean”, your message is clearer w/out them. it is more than a few.
    the first thing i noticed on these vlogs was the rolling of the eyes like its a bore or chore, in the intro… not inviting at all.. and the ums.
    my pts i forward these to said same. but at this point, any correction is fake, isnt it? either you can get past her delivery or you cant. dont shoot the mssgngr, just listen to the info…. still its personal … can u resonate w susan or not. E. Tohle Speaks extremely slow, T. Robbins rapid fire speaking, NEITHER say um… but there are still those who do not resonate with one or the other and both have brilliant messages.

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  51. TopCat

    Susan, rock on, love your Vlogs! Those folks that feel they actually have the right to judge and criticize should be ignored, and if these character quirks are really upsetting to people, they shouldn’t be watching. I find this so trivial. Keep spreading your positivity, Susan!

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  52. Patty

    When I saw the topic, I anticipated Ohm instead of Um.
    Seems to me each may give time/consideration to the thought and communication process.
    Um is certainly better than aahhh.
    Habitual ahhh’s should be eliminated.
    Um’s should be limited; some may enhance focus; too many are a distraction. When there are too many, it seems to evoke a sense the speaker is confused or the topic has been thought through, but not yet verbalized effectively.

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  53. Linda Trosky

    Susan, we all need a little in our lives..if not we wouldn’t be following BLE. I’m sorry people have to criticize you. Please don’t change a thing. Um is what makes you real!. We all love you…keep uming girl…that’s it I’m making a tee

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  54. Janna

    I never even notice you’r doing Um. I enjoy to much and listened well. Live you. Don’t take notice

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  55. Kris

    It’s amazing that Susan is willing to share her unfiltered thoughts and feelings. In today’s political environment not many people are willing to speak so openly. I’ve noticed both the “canned opening” approach and “ummm” in her vlogs, however to point them out seems petty. It’s like grumbling about the wrapping paper while opening an amazing gift. Thank you Susan, for sharing your unscripted self. I’m so tired of how divided America is. Sharing ideas and accepting differences while striving for the same goal could solve move than just the obesity epidemic.

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  56. Jacqui

    Dear Susan!

    So very sorry folks have been mean about your ‘um’s’ and so glad the science is on your side ;-). I really can’t believe anyone has ever criticised you on your speaking! It’s quite clear to me that you are speaking spontaneously and your passion, knowledge and experience are so full and rich that you are totally engaging, clear and cover your topics from many if not all angles. Never noticed that you have tendency to say, ‘um’ but pleased to hear the science anyway! I totally agree with you that everything happens for a reason. Less judgement and more compassion is a brilliant way forward. Bless you, Susan. xx

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  57. Robert Roepke

    Susan, please continue to speak your blogs as always. I love you the way you are; ums and all!

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  58. Angela

    Just began watching you. Had not noticed it. Yet, interesting science.
    It makes sense. TY for sharing that.

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  59. Ronnie

    Just for the sake of interest. “Um” actually activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Thus, it calms you down, which makes sense considering that conveying complex thoughts is a mental stressor. It is fascinating to know that the listener needs to hear “Um” to understand what you are saying.

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    Ohhh! I missed your “um” so much! I kindly ask you to be a little bit unconscious in this, please ❤️

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  61. Cyndi Kahn

    Never noticed your umm’s 😊 Just saying…

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  62. Martha

    This vlog was fantastic.!! Thank you so much for the reminder to “shine a light on it”.

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  63. Jan Baucom

    You are great in your presentations! Those who are criticizing the ums may be judging out of jealousy. Your strength, wisdom and stamina is awe-inspiring!!! 😇❣Blessings to you😇❣😇❣😇❣

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  64. Sarah choy

    Your hair looks lovely Susan. Interesting topic.

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  65. Carla

    You make me smile. Ummmm you are so adorable. Thank you for your vulnerability!

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  66. Arline Nash

    LOL!!! Ummm… You’re adorable!

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  67. bj

    Yjis time, in your presentation on the use of “um”, each time I would have anticipated you using “um”, you had a moment of extended silence. So perhaps another purpose of “um” may be to allow the speaker some time to prepare the next statement. d
    The pauses of silence became patterned, and had a length approximately the same length of a speaker using an “um”. Which seemed to lend some credence to the concept that the speaker was conciously omitting/controlling for the absence of “um”, with the result that the moemnt of silence kept appearing somewhat regularly!
    But your concept is interesting. And this time I counted only 1 actual “um” that I was aware of.
    Thank you for this presentation.

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  68. Erin

    I ❤️ you!!! Thank you for being you!!

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  69. Sue Mack Gaulke

    Oh Susan – loved, loved, loved this. My company (successworks has trained Fortune 500 business executives worldwide in Presentation Skills for over 35 years. Before I wrote my book, I did research with thousands of people asking them what they love and dislike most about presenters. Yes, ums were on the Top 10 Terrible Turnoff list. My opinion is that your ums are in the “normal” category as opposed to “distracting”. But here’s the really big deal. Do you know what the #1 thing is that people want in their presenters……. Enthusiasm!! Ta Da!! You have that a thousand times over. Bingo! You win! By the way – people are much more critical of female speakers than male.

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  70. Kate

    At least it’s not “like.” That’s my pet peeve.

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  71. Michelle New

    Simply stated: Thank you so much for all the wonderful information you so generously share… isn’t that the point of the vlogs anyway? Just saying….
    Just keep on being you.!

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  72. Roger

    Since I never notice your “um”‘s unless I specifically listen for them, you’re not overusing. I think that, for me, they blend into your talks, and become part of the background, noise words that helps your thoughts flow into my mind *smile*. If you used “um” or “like” more, I might well have noticed. When I listened to your vblog today, I noticed that you had some “um”‘s in there, even when you were trying not to…which is understandable, since you were focused on verbalizing your thoughts and ideas, not on the exact way that you spoke.

    Anyways, you’re right on target, it’s the listener’s responsibility to decide if they want to listen to you, not your responsibility to try and please everyone with your speaking style. I’m not surprised about the research that you cited about the role of “um”, that makes perfect sense to me.

    Keep on doing what you do *smile*.

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  73. Mary Shy

    Susan, I have watched your vlogs for several years and LOVE them. This was one of my favorites. Don’t change ANYTHING! You’re genuine style (as well as your great message) is why I watch. For those who haven’t seen it, PLEASE try to find the vlog from some years ago that talks about why Susan does the “Welcome” as she does. Since I saw that vlog, I actually expect and love the intro!

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  74. Sherri A Healey

    That is awesome Susan, and though I have never really noticed you saying um that much, I have in the past stopped listening to other speakers who said it every other word as it was so distracting and annoying. I will say I am super conscious of NOT saying um when I talk because when I was in high school, we had a speech teacher that would throw stuff at us if we said um during any of our speeches!! So really out of fear I try not to say it LOL So maybe now I can give myself a break if I let one sneak out once in a while.

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  75. Linda Wilkins

    Brilliant! When I listen to you, which usually seems quite extemporaneous, I think, “wow, she’s good not to have ‘fillers'” — I never noticed umm, um’s. How can I listen to the spirit of the message and get lost in details.

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  76. Lynn

    Another great vlog Susan. I hadn’t noticed your ums, and I usually do notice when listening to a speaker. I always learn something from your vlogs, but who knew it would be to listen up after hearing an um. Good stuff!

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  77. Roland

    As an Executive Coach in the UK, I spend a lot of time working with people to speak effectively in public … In the course of this work the subject of ‘ums’ and ‘ahhs’ is often raised and generally there is a desire within both speakers and audiences for a reduction in their prevalence. The research you refer to provides interesting thinking around the subject and the idea that the um signifies an important point is coming is plausible. There are other schools of thought that you may find interesting. For instance, it has been found that as part of our socialisation there is a need to fill gaps in conversation with noise when talking in a group to signify that we haven’t finished when we pause for thought. Being interrupted when we are in mid flow because we paused for thought is irritating, so we learn to fill the gaps with ums and ahhs… This habit can then infiltrate into other aspects of speaking such as presentations/vlogs etc. Additionally, when we are creating rather than remembering in conversation there is a tendency to um and ahh more often as we pause to make sense of our thoughts as we translate them into verbal outputs. This is a useful indicator in some situations (such as an interview) that someone is constructing rather than remembering. Generally, as I mentioned above there is a desire to reduce the amount of Ums and ahhs. Often, a useful solution is to use linking words such as ‘now’, ‘so’, ‘and’ etc., with the right body language to indicate a pause. This combines the best of both worlds, maintaining noise, but developing rhythm and flow in the spoken output. I also agree with some of the points Linda makes above about the reduction in ums and ahhs leading to more powerful speaking. For me it is about balance. Your vlogs are authentic and compelling – it takes courage and skill to put your thoughts on the line in such an open way; unfortunately there will always be some who will focus on the few percent of “wrong” rather than the multitude of “right” – increasingly in society and especially on social media. The elegance with which you tackled this subject is legend 🙂 My wife is a bright liner who has been inspired to achieve amazing things by your book and vlogs. Here in the UK she is in turn inspiring people all around her to follow in her footsteps- I’m not too far behind and am getting to understand much by watching the vlogs- so, yes, find the balance that’s right for you in how you publicly speak and never sacrifice your authenticity for perfection 😊

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    1. Deborah

      Here, here Roland!

      Reply ·
    2. Bright Line Eating

      Appreciate your comment, here, Roland. You bring up some really interesting points about “um” being a signal that declares, “Wait, I’m not done!” 😉

      Reply ·
  78. Richard Ballentine

    Um .. . .i liked the research you covered, however sometimes folks wil speak and then pitch out an um so that the other person cannot respond without interrupting the um. The um in this case is a verbal control to keep the other person from responding and perhaps bring new nformation to the conversation .

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  79. Bernice

    Your “ums’” have never bothered me and I’ve listened to you a lot.

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  80. Andrea Beth Trank

    Dear Susan, Thank you for sharing this research. I am a yoga teacher who is very highly educated and I find myself saying Um a great deal especially in natural conversation when I am thinking through and trying to explain complicated concepts. I feel so much better about this habit and I am sorry anyone would say anything ugly about your way of speaking. I love it and I learn so much from you. Namaste, Andrea Trank

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  81. Patti

    Susan, I love every word that comes out of your month. You and BLE have helped me accomplish good health more than anyone or anything ever has. You are so precious to me. By the way, I love your shade of lipstick. Take care sweetie.

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  82. Mary

    Um…., I LOVE that you are so real in your blogs. I always feel as if you are right in this room, talking with me. You are genuine when you speak! The research supports you!

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  83. christy

    You said “um” at least three times in this video and I’m quite certain not for the reasons addressed in the study, but who cares? Keep up the good work!

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  84. Lynn

    Susan, I am an SLP who records and transcribes conversations with children of all ages as part of my initial speech-language evaluation…especially in terms of auditory processing. I LOVED the research you shared! I’ve always viewed the “uh” and “um” and restarts in conversation as indication that the speaker needed more time to organize their thinking. I so, so, so agree that you should not be self-conscious about your “um”. You are just organizing your thinking! And it’s wonderful thinking that you share! Consider me to be one of your cheerleaders and a big fan!

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  85. L

    Um is not a proper use of the English language. If you are in the public light and are constantly using the um I would suggest joining Toastmasters. Toastmasters is an easy place to get rid of the word “ums”. If you don’t want say “um” just pause! It means you are talking too fast…never use the word UM if you can avoid it. Many many many public speakers do not use the word UM…they pause.

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  86. Lawrence Mills

    To me the main purpose of using “UM” is for the brain to catch up with your mouth, lol.

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  87. Ariann

    I am one of your geeky fan. That’s why I joined BLE. I loved this blog. No, you do not say ‘um’ too much. Your vlogs are interesting, compelling and relevant. I will keep watching.

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  88. Yoshino Shirota

    It reminded me of a Prime Minister in Japan, longtime ago, nicknamed Bull, because he used to speak in the House of Commons with lots of ‘Ums’ and they were quite long, sounding more like ‘moo’. And, after a quite long ‘Um’ a very interesting sentence used to come out. I think it gave him the time to prepare his brain, and at the same time prepare the audience as well, without intending it. What Susan said is in line with. I would just say Halle-Um-lluja!

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  89. Tina G

    Susan I find your authenticity endearing, I like that what you are saying is not pre-written and read off of a teleprompter. I don’t know that I would have the confidence to pull that off. You are definitely putting yourself out there each week to bring insightful information! I think I have noticed you say Um a lot, but it has never bothered me. I love all the statistics and studies you bring to your vlogs, they are so interesting. Just continue being yourself, it is your genuine self that keeps me watching and following, you feel like a close friend even though we have never met.

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  90. Judith

    Susan, When you say “um”. I listen.

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  91. Bonnie L. Weiss

    Your “ums” have never bothered me, but today, of course, I had to count them! You said “um” or “uh” less than half a dozen times, and I for one certainly don’t have a problem with that! Just keep doing what you’re doing.

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  92. Robert Vincelette

    Some autistic people, perhaps those who did not learn to speak till several years old, speak the same way one writes. This may be part of their difficulty communicating.

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  93. Linda

    Thank-you for owning up to knowing you say UM a lot!

    I dislike hearing excessive Ummmmm’ing from anyone. I have always found it annoying to listen to. Annoying and irritating in my listening. With you or with anyone else.

    Personally, I find it distracting and don’t believe or buy something important is coming or that it has a purpose. I would like to see the research on that. My trainer who is a lawyer and masterful public speaker, taught me UMMMM or AHHHH is just “FILLER”, empty meaningless filler. It is something the speaker usses who can’t just pause, be present, and think before they determine what they want to say next. It takes them out of being present for the moment. I was trained to plainly say, “I’m thinking…”, or “Give me a moment…” Hence, I was trained to remove fillers from my speaking.

    And it TOOK SOMETHING, believe me, it took something to remove it from my speaking.

    It happens to be contagious as well. When someone interviews you and they don’t say Ummmmm and you do, A LOT…before they know it, they are sprinkling it within their speaking and conversation. All great orators of our time don’t fill their speaking with Ummmmm anymore than they would burp intermittently during talks.

    I think saying it a little, maybe. A lot, if it were me, I would consider all the contribution out there and take a look at it.

    Is it any different than people who use the word f*ck as as a noun or verb in their speaking. Some people swear as a course of normal speaking. Is it not just careless or unconscious? Important, valuable and purposeful?

    In the basic 2 – 2 1/2 hr. BLE webinar it is said more than 50 x within the first 30 minutes. Listen back to one. If it bothers you., consider it. If it doesn’t, and you like how you speak, I wouldn’t change it.

    If it’s something you are committed to changing, take it on. It could only make your speaking and message more powerful, rather than distract from it.

    It’s hard to remove it from one’s speaking unless you turn up the volume on it. Way up! Because fillers become an unconscious bad habit. I had to say “Ummmmm” out loud, EVEN LOUDER, every time I heard myself say it. I had to say it 10x times louder. As per my coaches’ homework. I took it on! At some point, it made me giggle, a lot! Blurting out UMMMM super loud without telling people what I was doing. I had to say ‘Uhhhhhhmmmmm 10X LOUDER every time I heard myself say it. At some point, I would hear it before it was coming up. It made the unconscious, conscious. Then I learned to just pause and be ok patiently thinking. Surprisingly, everyone listening, just kept listening. I no longer needed to or felt the urge to FILL THE SPACE.

    The purpose of UM in my world is – to teach us to speak at a higher level and become more conscious of our words. To no longer feel the need TO FILL THE SPACE. Silence is powerful. Silence has a purpose and value.

    If the research says I am incorrect, I will buy it. I would love to know the source of that research and what public speaking coaches and presentation coaches have to say on the matter.

    I loved hearing you speak today having only said it twice. I was AWESOME. But that’s just me.

    It’s all a matter of whether you’re committed to speaking at a higher level or not. Saying it a little is absolutely find, it is for you to determine whether you feel it is excessive or not.

    I say….let’s all take it on.

    Let’s start a revolution

    From from UM to OM (sacred prayer and pause)

    Thank-you for your courage and vulnerability whether you dismiss the feedback out there or look at it all as a contribution to grow.

    We all LOVE you and the LOVE and COMPASSION you radiate.

    Bless you.

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, Linda. You’ve added some interesting dialogue to the conversation! <3

      Reply ·
  94. Sharon West-Williams

    Aww Susan, you are so cute and all your ums are perfectly placed. If I could roll back the years and get a redo with my career, education, and relationships you would be my role model. You’ve definitely had your challenges in life but look what you have done with them. Amazing!!

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  95. Julie

    Ummmm….I LOVE your communication style and your willingness to be true to who you are. I hope that you spend exactly zero amount of time worrying about the negativity and know that you are helping the rest of us in so many ways. Thanks for being you! 🙂

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  96. Jenell Brimhall

    I’ve only noticed it in one interview. As an educational presenter I try not to say UM, but I appreciate the fresh perspective – makes great sense.( especially since you are so genuinely conserving – not a canned speech)! Your vlog will also help me check the little things I’m not implementing. I’m seeing good progress but can, um definitely do better!

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  97. Cynthia

    Hi Susan,
    I have been following you and the Bright Line Eating program since October 2015. I am a bright lifer. I love, honor, and respect your authenticity. I love how you always help us seek the lesson in many walks of life. I notice when you say “um” but it never bothered me or took away from what you were talking about. I always value the greater message/lesson you are sharing with us more. I don’t know why people feel the need to take away from what you’re truly accomplishing with this movement with their judgement; not just with what you shared in the vlog, but also from previous ones.

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  98. chris

    interesting comment about language. It makes me think I could be more curious about other language mannerisms that I might otherwise just think of as annoying. It’s always better to be curious, I think. p.s. I didn’t even notice that you say um.

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  99. angie edgson

    Very cool. I love science.

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  100. Pamela

    Your ability to process criticism in such a gracious way is inspirational. Your presentation are always authentic and captivating. Please don’t hesitate to be as natural in your approach as you are. “Welcome to the weekly vlog, umm, right?” It’s ALL GOOD! Thank you for making a positive contribution to the world!!! I appreciate people like YOU!!!

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  101. Dorrie

    This my first visit to your vlog, but i love what you said as I’m quite interested in little language things like that; I moved to Belize almost 30 years ago from the USA so this topic has been full in my face for all this time. English is spoken here but I refer to it as a ‘mirror image’ of North American English. And here they say “ehm”. So, thanks, very interesting !!

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      Hi Dorrie! Welcome to the weekly vlog! We hope you stick around! <3

      Reply ·
  102. Andrea

    Check out the book: Um. . .: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean, by Michael Erard

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      Thanks for the recommendation, Andrea! That looks fascinating!

      Reply ·
  103. Daniel

    Does “um” or something equivalent exist in other languages?

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    1. Erica

      Yes! In Mexico, people will say, “eh” or “o sea.” In Japan, people will say, “ee to” or “maa” or “saa.” Those are the countries I’ve lived in, but no doubt every language has an equivalent.

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  104. Sue Ackerman

    Hey Susan,
    Quite frankly, I never noticed. Maybe I need the cues for more concentrated listening.
    What to the experts say about Canadians who end their sentences with eh?! LOL

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  105. Cc

    People are so picky! I didn’t notice the ums myself but now I counted 2 ums and 1 ah in this video just because my attention was brought to it. I think it’s more interesting that Susan says such complex things to communicate that she needs her um and you need to hear her um so get over it lol.

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  106. Lynne

    Dearest Susan – I have been watching your vlogs, your videos – everything I have been able to get hold of, for years now. I have never noticed your ‘ums’ at all. There has never been any annoyance in me. I do notice that when someone is giving a another seminar that I attend and seems to lacks confidence their ‘ums’ really irritate and I cannot assimilate their material. I wonder – is it their lack of confidence or my resistance to the material?? I obviously have no resistance to what you say at all then! Whoopee!
    Love you so much. Please keep being you.

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  107. Debbie Abshire

    My sons are incredibly intelligent and BOTH of them use “um” when explaining things that are “over my head”, whether it is computers or finances. I agree that is signals an important message is coming, and in my case it is something that I will be able to understand. Thanks for NOT using a teleprompter, it would seem so disconnected to me. I LOVE your vlogs!!

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  108. Michele Burdette

    As always, beautifully said. I’m sorry you have to address something so mean-spirited. I have to believe that saying anything to you is more about that person than about the issue s/he is criticizing.
    I honestly never noticed that you said “um” more or less than the average person, probably because I’m more focused on your messages.
    Please just keep doing what you do. I love you and am so grateful for this community and all that you add to it.

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  109. Collette Chambers

    HFMH Susan, Are you familiar with TA (Transactional Analysis)? They offer that phrases like “You know” and “Um” are please me drivers. If you’re not familiar with this, may I recommend Born To Win. It’s a wonderful book and an easy read. I thoroughly compliment your work and applaud your successful recording non-telepromptor. Way to go.

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  110. Kim Ballance

    I love your vlogs. I don’t care how many times you pause or say um… your opening sentence is also fine: Welcome to the weekly vlog. The criticism annoys me. Here’s a little advice, if you are looking for some: Maybe you should say: “Welcome to this FREE video that I made for you because I care about you and where you are on this Bright Line Journey.” (A little sarcasm to point out that maybe folks are being overly critical.) Thank you for all that you do.

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  111. Cornel Demonte

    I really enjoyed the explanation of the usage of the 😐 – I have noticed a lot of distinguished speaker some time utter the word – in the sense that if you are doing it at a press conference it has a different connotation – that’s my 2 cents 😂

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  112. Mercedes (from Argentina)

    Honestly, I thought many times, “How can she speak so much without saying Um all the time?” So, as you said in your Aunt Paulie vlog, reality depends on the eye of the beholder. Love you, Susan.

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  113. Susan Havens

    Interesting. One that peeves me is “you know.” Good article.

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  114. Nancy

    What about “like”? You say “like” a lot. I’m curious to know what you make of that.

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  115. Chris

    Any research on the use of “like” or “you know” used as fillers?

    Gratefully, a non-native speaker whose English is excellent pointed out this habit to me and when I would use them, they would ask for clarification “do you mean like as similar to?” or answer “no, I don’t know” and so gratefully, with these reminders, I have worked to eliminate this sloppy usage.

    Listening to others, especially during media programs, who continue this habit detracts and distracts from their good messages. Language without those fillers is more enjoyable both as a listener and speaker.

    Reply ·
    1. Bright Line Eating

      Very interesting to consider how “like” and “you know” would relay to someone who speaks English as a second (or third or…) language!

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  116. Brenda Farris

    Wow! That is soooooo amazing and interesting that some would comment on your use of ‘Ummm’, Susan. To be perfectly frank, I find your vlog to be refreshingly open and honest and ‘real’ and genuine and non-scripted, which I adore and I listen to them over and over again and often wonder how (and if!!) I could do the same thing!!
    Thx for being YOU and sharing your life w/us each week.
    PS – I also adore the beginning over you wkly vlog…and its ‘sameness’. It is rather comfortable and stable for me.

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  117. Kiki

    Susan you have a beautiful Aura!

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  118. Diane Roderick

    Loved your blog today! I have been reading a book called ” rejection proof” and this respose of yours fits right in
    Many thanks for everything Susan – permission to be human for all!

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  119. Suzan Hill

    Oh my goodness, BLE Community! I can’t believe this would even be commented on! I know that “um” and similar speech pauses are a big issue in organizations like ToastMasters, but Susan never committed herself to being the perfect orator (to my knowledge). This woman does so much for us, why pick at her about small things? She’s doing significant research to empower people with food and weight issues. She teaches us significant information about our addictions allowing us to understand our challenges . She offers us unique tools for recovery and a community to share that process. She shares her own personal journey so that we know she’s a fellow traveler rather than a guru. She leads the organization that provides us all of this while continuing to evolve. She’s incredibly productive- do all you blog watchers know that she just prepared and taped 66 daily videos for those of us in Reboot Rezoom? As well as 9+ weekly modules? She is remarkably loving and responsive to criticism and feedback!

    Let’s give Susan a break! Let’s focus on appreciating all she does!

    Sending deep respect, love and gratitude to SPT and her Team!

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  120. Wendi Stevenson

    Fabulous! Love all your info. Ums and all. Thank you. Your service by presenting your blog is a true gem.

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  121. susie

    Dear Susan, I love your “vlogs” and your messages are always interesting and hopeful. at first, I did find your opening “Welcome to the weekly vlog” with rolling eyes very annoying but now I think it’s kind of cute and quirky. I do wonder why you do it that way. I didn’t notice excessive “ums”. Lord knows I do it a lot, especially at Toastmaster meetings when I’m trying really hard not to say it at all! anyway, thanks for all you do. BLE is a great concept and probably something I should do because I’m pretty high on the scale of your quiz.

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  122. Jamie

    As a speech and language pathologist I notice “ums.” I marveled at how rarely you use it. Keep up the good work; the content is what is important to me.

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  123. David Dressler, BA, RMT, CST, MET

    I don’t know if “um” is always an alert that a more complex subject is about to be spoken. Yesterday (before I heard about “um” here) I listened to a 31-minute talk by Dr. Anthony. I noticed that he absolutely never paused or said “um” during his talk. He certainly discussed subtle material. He had me totally focused, actually unmoving, mind completely silent and attending, for the entire talk. It was momentous for me what I learned without evaluating any information cognitively. Entirely intuitive understanding. And not a single “um.” I think I learned more in that 31 minutes than I have ever learned before. I think it matters what kind of mental activity is being monitored in drawing conclusions about “um.”

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    1. Claire

      I’ve said this to previous “um-commenters”…If you catch Susan giving a “prepared lecture”-even when she gets side tracked on a tangent-“um” rarely if ever comes up.
      If she is shooting a vlog-as she is astute at saying about herself–it is often when things get a bit sticky, personal or vulnerable-that particular speech idiom become more prevalent.

      I imagine that you just listened to a talk by Dr. Anthony that fell into the former catagory-that of a fairly prepared 31 minute talk-no matter what the subject-or how “subtle” the content.

      I’m now wondering if the people that are bothered by these speech idiosyncrasies tend to have brains that are more managerial and task oriented and not emotional/intuitive oriented? (I suppose a Meyers-Briggs test would be a fun diversion here! 🙂 )

      When I hear different speech patterns-I immediately pick up on the emotional vibe-like listening to anybody who is trying to communicate clearly what is a subjective experience? Children often do this-and people in trauma, grief or even joy. Because my brain is very comfortable there-I notice pauses, ums, likes and other repetitive speech patterns-but it is not distracting or irritating. If a person is looking for informative content only-I imagine their brains are screaming “get to the point.” I actually get wary around people who convey emotional/personal content without speech idioms. You are so right-it is not authentic!

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  124. bren

    You’re an animated & engaging speaker -rare!- I will actually watch you instead of just listening. I wonder how many others feel the the same. Probably a lot judging by your popularity! If it works why fix it – progress not perfection.

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  125. Diana

    I put my girls through 4-H public speaking, which does emphasize avoiding the use of the word “Um”. Because of that, I am a little sensitive about hearing “Um” a lot when someone is speaking . That said, I hear what your point is and will think about that.

    On a different note, I wanted to let you know how nice your hair looks now that it is a little longer. You look beautiful today in this blog. Thought I would let you know I thought so. Have a great day.

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  126. Micheline

    I had never noticed. Time for some people to get a life.

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  127. Sahaja

    Fascinating research-thanks for sharing it! What about the significance of saying “like” in conversation.? Does it serve the same function to highlight vulnerable or detailed co tent? Or do I just really really want people to like me?

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  128. Linda Smith

    Please don’t change anything! For me, your powerful speaking style is powerful purely because it is a reflection of you, and it’s your personality which is driving Bright Line Eating. Please don’t sanitise your delivery, otherwise a big part of the value of the blogs will be lost. In my opinion. I love that you say ‘um’, as everyone does, as you explain this week. I also like that you say ‘like’. I also like that you’re very American, which is interesting to Brits like me. Keep up the good work!

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  129. Usha Mayani

    I love your videos. I’m doing the 14 day challenge right now. I am very thankful for your videos as is. You support my journey and for this, I am very thankful.

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  130. Sam

    That was really interesting! I knew why we say um… obviously because we are thinking and filling the empty pause. But I didn’t know the effect it had on the listener (in a positive way). We all know how annoying it can be when someone says it every sentence but now I realise that must be because when someone is using it the wrong way, it is losing its impact on the one listening. Because um is used in other ways as well as the one you mentioned.
    I hadn’t noticed you using um overly much. But like one other comment here that I saw, I find your opening is weird. When you roll your eyes and waggle your head and say welcome to the weekly vlog. It seems as though you are making fun of the vlog and are irritated by it. We talk like that and waggle our heads while doing it when we are making fun of something someone has said and showing that we feel it is nonsense. (Especially your eyes kind of rolling up). But I live in NZ and maybe it is a culture thing? Like Indian people waggle their heads when they talk and it means something I can’t fathom but in Indian culture it is important.
    Personally I would love to see a more welcoming intro that makes me feel you are confident about the value of what you’re about to share. But it hasn’t stopped me watching and enjoying. It just seems strange because it’s like you’re saying: “Here we go with this ridiculous vlog nonsense which is probably a waste of time…”. And then you proceed to do the opposite. 😄
    It is interesting anyway.

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  131. Marla

    Thanks Susan – I love your messages. I am a bright lifer and one of your avid followers. I can admit to having had a hard time with how often the UM word is used. It distracts me if used often. In response to your point, I would say there is a difference between it being used as a “pause” followed up with other material – and a FILLER word. I have noticed in my world that “um” and “like” are thrown into sentences constantly as a “filler” rather than a complete sentence. I am a speaker, teacher and messenger. I believe in speaking authentically. I also feel that as a “messenger” I want my audience to take in what I say with ease, joy and heart. Thanks for the share.

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  132. Erin

    I’ve never been distracted or really noticed your ums. Think you are a brilliant, engaging speaker. I would say ignore the haters but glad you didn’t b/c now we have more information about the use of ums in language. It’s a cue to focus.

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  133. Kate MacMahon

    Susan, why do you ALWAYS, every single week, tilt your head back and forth 3 or 4 times and chant in the same singsong voice “Welcome-to-the-weekly-vlog” all the while rolling your eyes heavenward as if it’s the silliest, most annoying thing ever?? It is so off-putting! It seems an odd self-deprecating disconnect, like you’re making a joke out of it. PLEASE stop!

    Reply ·
    1. kathleen E. Dalton

      I find it very annoying too so I turn off the sound and close my eyes til that part is over. otherwise Susan’s vlogs are very well done.

      Reply ·
    2. Cathryn Taylor

      Well, I promised not to nit/pick again but I agree with this. The sing-songy eye-rolling delivery really negates the importance of what follows.

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  134. Sharon

    Very interesting, thank you again!

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  135. Cathy

    I don’t know how you do it, but you continuously hit on exactly what I need to hear every week – even when I don’t know what it is I need to hear. Thank you for doing what you do authenticly and with vulnerability.

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  136. Melissa M

    Everything about this vlog is wonderful! Thanks Susan!

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  137. Helen Myers

    I enjoyed that. Our congregation speaker would call it a word whisker.

    Reply ·
  138. Carol

    Susan, I love how you can take a topic that appears “heavy with judgement”, and bring the science of awareness to it.
    I am a 10/10, and have spent lots of life energy on judging self and others around sugar. Doing BLE since 2016, and now in a right sized body. I am Happy, Thin and always working on the free part. Love the science, reframing, rebooting!
    I am so very grateful to YOU!
    Please keep it up.

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  139. Rana

    In a meeting one of my bosses said “um” 167 times in a 60 minute meeting. I’m going to say it was horrible. That is almost 3 “ums” per minute.

    Reply ·
    1. ..

      u were counting the “umd” ???!!! I bet u can’t remember the speech 😂

      Reply ·
  140. Joyce

    The “Ums” don’t bother me so much. I understand that it is giving you a moment to consider something important. It’s the “likes” that are distracting. They’re a useless part of the conversation. They sound immature and unprofessional.

    Reply ·
    1. Jenny


      Reply ·
  141. Gina Heese

    Susan, first off I must say you SURE have a thick skin!
    Secondly, a cliché and a Bible verse came to mind when I listened to this vlog: “They cant see the forest for the trees” and “…..first take the plank out of your eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s (sister’s) eye.” Luke 6:42

    This brings me back to the vlog where someone criticized how you wag your head back n forth at your intro as well!! LOL LOVE IT! Love YOU!

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  142. Joel

    Thanks for your sharing and open approach to being so human and scientific.

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  143. Peggy

    I think the use of the word Um is you are gathering your thoughts before you speak. It doesn’t bother me, I like listening to you speak even if you use um. Lol

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  144. Cathryn Taylor

    Hi Susan. I will admit that I sent an email a while back, pointing out that you said “right?” a lot, as a way of ending a sentence, and it seemed to be becoming a bit of a verbal tick. I didn’t criticize the use of “um.” I want you to know why I did it (and I think you cut way back on using it after my comment, though that could have been coincidental). It is because you are an incredibly gifted and powerful speaker, and I LOVE listening to your vlogs. When I found something you were doing that I felt distracted from your message, I wanted to point it out. I can see now that it must have been annoying to hear that kind of nitpickiness, so I apologize. The “ums” never bothered me, but I find this research really interesting, so thank you for telling us about it! I pledge to withstand the urge to nitpick your speaking habits.

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  145. Elisabeth Handler

    So interesting and such a great nugget! Thanks for the insight and the info. And thanks for being willing to engage with critics, and modeling confidence and masterful management of self-doubt!

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  146. Chelsea

    Brene Brown, who you mentioned, says the critics don’t count–they are not the arena! They are not putting themselves out there to be judged! Bless you for the amazing work you do!! The movement that you are leading is literally saving lives and paving a way for future generations. Love you!!

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  147. Carmen

    just about everyone even the best public speakers say um

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  148. Bette Pollex

    I wanted to give you a big high 5 at the end of your vlog!

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  149. C

    I don’t mind the “um’s”, though it is good to know they serve a purpose. I am , however, struggling with something unrelated, so it is good to be reminded that it, too, serves a greater purpose. Thanks for all you do, Susan. ❤️

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  150. Stephanie

    These are useful observations about the value of “um” in conversation. But this isn’t a conversation, but a one-way video presentation, which is slightly different. I’ve been on both sides of this matter as presenter and as audience, so I empathize with the challenge of eliminating ums. It has a purpose in real time conversation, but in a video or lecture, it can distract. Worse still, when lecturers/presenters tend to pause and frequently search for words, or hesitate in delivering a specific point, it may appear to the audience that they aren’t prepared. The v-log is it’s own evolving medium, something like a cross between a formal presentation and an extemporaneous chat, so there’s room for experimenting.

    I’ll say that I derive the most value from v-logs and videos that clearly have been prepared, when you’ve polished specific points. The extemporaneous ones, where you tend to ramble and digress more, lose my attention.

    For what it’s worth, the ums haven’t bothered me given the v-log format. And when the digressions lose me, I just stop listening and wait for the next one.

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  151. Monica Dean

    I’ve never noticed ums in Susan’s vlogs, and I don’t usually read the comments. I took a class in Presentation Skills at work, and it was brought out that most people have little quirks in their speech, and most people aren’t aware that they are saying them. From a nervous laugh to ah, um or you know. I hear it more when people say you know after every comment. Susan I enjoy your vlogs. Most speak to me. Some don’t, and there have been some that were a OMG moments that profoundly moved me and were all about my journey. Keep up the good work. My personnel opinion is that anyone who can speak on a topic for 10 to 20 minutes off the cuff is doing great.

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  152. Theresa

    I have been watching you since the beginning…or close to it. I do not do BLE, but I am happy thin and semi free 😉
    Funny thing is… I am annoyed by “um” but never ever with you! I love your nerdy science because it is right on. When you say um…. I am anticipating what you will say next and I always know you are gathering your thoughts and that you DON’T read from a script, like so many people out there!
    Keep doing what your doing and poo poo on those who don’t or can’t get it….
    A faithful follower of your authenticity…. Theresa

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  153. joseph

    Who would have guessed that uttering “um” has an important, useful purpose? Thanks for that pearl Dr. Thompson!
    Joseph in Missoula

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    1. Silvia

      Exactly, Joseph! This woman is a true genious!

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  154. Ann

    I never noticed you saying, “Um,” either. I can’t believe the things that people call you out on, Susan! You are very gracious to the critics!

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    1. Donna

      Agree totally!

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    2. Char

      Totally agree with this comment. I have noticed the big pauses before, but I have never been annoyed. It’s not excessive. It seems to me that if someone is that annoyed with the amount of “um” or pauses, it is because they have a personal issue. I’m disappointed in their behavior towards you, and so pleased with the poise of your response. 🙂

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  155. Bruce Fleck


    I’m a psychology nerd so I loving watching your videos. I’m a big follower even though I’m low on the food susceptibility score. I love how smart, thoughtful, genuine, and vulnerable you are!

    I don’t mind the “um’s.” I know it’s your brain working. I used to use “um” a lot in my public speaking. Once I became aware of it, I started becoming more comfortable with pauses. Plus, I found that the pauses creating more impact and greater engagement from my listeners!

    One small thing that bothers me is when you say, “Welcome to the week vlog…” you sound like you are deeply unhappy! The rest of your vlog is fine. It always has appropriate emotion and energy. Your opening to the vlog seems oddly unlike anything else you communicate.

    Would you please consider raising the energy and enthusiasm in your voice when you introduce the weekly vlog? I know you are excited to share your thoughts with us! Please act like it.

    I’m a big fan! I’ve read your book and watched almost all of your videos. I’m offering this suggestion with love and respect.


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    1. joseph

      Hi Bruce! That’s interesting. I wonder if Dr. Tanenhaus would draw the same conclusions from his eye movement experiments from pauses as he did with um’s.
      Joseph in Missoula

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    2. Deborah

      Hi Bruce,
      Susan has recorded a vlog episode about the opening of her weekly vlog. You may enjoy it.
      Cheers, Deborah

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      1. Brenda Farris

        Oh? That’s interesting, Deborah. I would love to watch that vlog. Can you share w/me where to find it? I actually really like the ‘same, canned’ type of opening each week. It feel ‘comfortable’ and ‘homey’ for me.

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    3. Elaine Webster

      That’s interesting Bruce. I am a huge fan as well and have noticed the same reaction to Susan’s welcome message. I actually have to do some internal maneuvering not to be bothered by the tone. Isn’t it interesting? If there was a subtitle to the welcome message for me it would be ” I’ve done this so many times and it is really a lot of work and I sort of don’t want to do it but here we are”. And then the actual talk is the opposite! So real and authentic and loving. Not a criticism Susan, but a noticing…Thank you for your beautiful work and presence.

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    4. ...

      instead, why not accept someone else as they are?

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  156. Marion

    I like the spontaneousness of your vlogs. I rather have the “ums” than a canned sounding talk.

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  157. Shelia M

    Susan to be honest I have not noticed.. But since you mentioned it …um…I’m kidding. Some people just need to …….get a life.
    You are so adorable.

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  158. Stacy

    Brilliant. This vlog is brilliant. And exactly what I needed just now. Thank you so much.
    Ps: your Ums are perfect–I say don’t change a thing! ❤️❤️

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    1. Jane

      For years it has been a cue for politicians, when being interviewed, to take a deep breath and think about what they are going to say next! Ummmmmmm……..
      You do your thing, Susan. It is you – that is your natural way and your messages are so getting through

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  159. Beverly Heinz

    I had not read the comments of others regarding this issue, but I can appreciate the idea of projection. This is what I think can take place when situations, people, events affect us to the point of annoyance/anger. I think that Susan addresses that very well in this vlog. Also, fascinating information on the use of ‘Um’, which makes great sense to me. I believe it’s less important to have the language perfect as it is to have informative content. Honestly, we all have our quirks.

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