How to get rid of "auxiliary words"?

communication
Neue Antwort am 31. März 2022
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Anonym A fragte am 28. März 2022

As a non native English speaker, one key issue I'm trying to improve is to avoid the “auxiliary words" (such as hmmm). I tend to express “hmmm” when I'm thinking, especially during case interviews and when I get nervous. 

Are there any tips to help me improve this bad habit and enhance my communication skill? Thanks.

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Matteo
Experte
antwortete am 28. März 2022
McKinsey & Company | Currently offering 1 free coaching session| Happy to PARTNER with you to get an offer from MBB

Hello, 

thanks a lot for the question. :) 

It is an important point because these “fillers” both make the speaker not credible, uncomfortable and are annoying for the interviewer. Moreover, since consulting is a client facing job, it is fundamental to try to avoid them as much as possible. 

I can give you 3 main advices

1) Be aware of which/how many “auxiliary words" you use: it is very useful to ask for the help of someone so that he can take notes of all them. After that, read the report and train yourself to eliminate them

2) Substitute them with pauses: these will be useful for 3 main reasons: 1) Give time to the interviewer to reflect on what you are saying 2) Give time to yourself to think about the best answer 3) Make your reasonings clearer. In any case, it is better a pause at the wrong moment than an auxiliary word 

3) Go on with your speaking: even if you do not have the perfect word, do not interrupt yourself. You will have the next sentence to clarify your reasoning

Do not hesitate to reach out me in case of further questions! 

Good luck!

Matteo

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Ian
Experte
Content Creator
antwortete am 29. März 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

I used to have the problem as well! It's totally and completely fixable! Here's my advice:

  1. Pause - it's ok to use periods. Pause before you move on to the next thought
  2. Slow Down - you're speaking faster than you think you are! More often than not, you can afford to slow down and let your thoughts catch up!
  3. Record yourself - practice frameworking/casing/fit while recording yourself. Then watch the videos to look for ways to improve

Good luck!

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Moritz
Experte
Content Creator
antwortete am 28. März 2022
Unearth your spike & get the offer |ex-McKinsey | 120+ coachings & interviews @ McKinsey | ESADE MBA | Transition Expert

There’s a short answer and a long answer. 

The short answer is: unwavering confidence!

The long answer has the same bottom line but deals with the journey to great self confidence. This breaks down into confidence with your speech and general confidence in your abilities.

As for speech, I personally started seeking opportunities for public speaking at some point in my life when I struggled. I combined this with various communication trainings throughout my career, until I finally started loving the spotlight and speaking publicly with a passion. A much shorter route is filming and critiquing yourself. Experiment with slowing down your speech and using tactical pauses. Feels weird but makes you look more competent (you’ll see in the videos you take of yourself).

As for general confidence, you need to be on top of your game. In an interview, you need to always feel like you know what you’re doing. Too many candidates are panicking because they’re not on too of their game, which comes with all sorts of non non-lexic utterances. The trick is preparing to be confident, not perfect at case cracking (nobody is - not me nor other coaches, and certainly not the Partners who will interview you - but all are confident in their abilities).

Hope this helps a bit! Best of luck!

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Maikol
Experte
antwortete am 28. März 2022
Incoming BCG Principal | Former Bain, AlixPartner, and Private Equity | INSEAD MBA | GMAT 780

The only way is to be mindful of what you are saying and going to say. 
When you think you should be focused on what your mouth is articulating. 
If you exercise on this for 20-30 days, you will notice a significant improvement. It goes without saying that you should train this skill in every single situation in which you speak.

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Florian
Experte
Content Creator
antwortete am 31. März 2022
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hi there,

Two tips

  1. Have an annoying case coach or peer make a sound every time you use a filler word. This can be quite brutal in the beginning since you will be interrupted all the time - very effective though. 
  2. Record yourself when practicing to understand the problem and track your progress.

Cheers,

Florian

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Andi
CoachingPlus-Experte
antwortete am 29. März 2022
BCG interviewer (>175 candidates) |96% coaching success rate, if 3+ sessions | Coached 50+ candidates to MBB offers

Hi there, 

A lot of great advice from the other coaches was given already. In my view, it really boils down to a few action points that I'd recommend you apply in combination:

  1. Increase awareness: record yourself doing cases + ask your case partner(s) to pay particular attention & jot down when it happens. At some point it will click and you'll notice every time you do it - once the case, it will be easier to switch off.
  2. Slow down articulation: as Ian already highlighted, give yourself enough time to think. “mmmm” is typically a subliminal mechanism to buy time to think. Slow down a bit and focus on concision, rather than an ongoing “flow of talking". Less is more and will get rid of the problem.
  3. Drill cases: as your casing experience increases by repetition, you will at some point internalize approach / mechanics to an extent that it becomes second-nature, i.e. you don't have to consciously think about it and free up the mind space. When that happens, you will gain more confidence as well as more conscious control over what you want to say, how to position & and articulate it - at this point, you will see that your use of auxiliary words will decline automatically. 

Hope this is helpful! Do reach out if you have further questions / want to learn more.

Regards, Andi

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Clara
Experte
Content Creator
antwortete am 29. März 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Hard to give you super insightful advice on this one tbh. 

When we use auxiliary words, it´s normally in order to buy some time or to because we lack confidence (which makes sense, is not our 1st language at the end of the day). Hence, practice, practice, practice. The more familiar you are, the more confident, and this will be reflected in your comms

Hope it helps!

Cheers, 

Clara

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Matteo

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