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sfgal's avatar

How can I respectfully tell my (very intelligent) intern that she sounds like a valley girl?

Asked by sfgal (280points) October 19th, 2007

She’s a college senior, about to graduate. Smart, entrepreneurial, eager, does a great job. however, every sentence is peppered with “like” or “totally” and it makes her sound 15 years old. I’ve already been working with her for 4 months so I feel like it’s odd to bring it up now, since she’s been dealing with clients for a while already. But I“m recommending her for a job within our organization, and before she goes to interview with that supervisor, I want to give her some advice. How can I tactfully give her this feedback?

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8 Answers

susanc's avatar

Say what you said to us. You clearly like and respect her, believe in her, and find
one correctable element worrisome because it could stand in her way. This is not a
complaint, it’s a gift.

srtlhill's avatar

I agree with susanc. Have that coversation privately the next time the valley girl comes out. Honesty with care and tact helps others to become a valuble employee such as yourself. The only other option is to write her a short note shareing
your positive feedback along with a helpful tip to her. For her to know you care may do the trick but to lose bad speaking habits takes friendly reminders along the way. You seem to care enough to try to help her
out. Job well done to you.

archer's avatar

again, i ask, what has happened to simple straight forward speaking? where is all this angst coming from?

but, having said that, one way to make it less personal would be to decry the failure of all of her teachers and of her parents which has brought her to this unfortunate point. to large extent, the fault is theirs.

kevbo's avatar

You can always sandwich this constructive criticism between two compliments. My guess though is that she’s a career-minded girl and would eagerly accept that feedback viewing it as a key to becoming more professional, mature, etc. You can also sell it as a preference/limitation of the interviewer, who is more “old school.” You dig?

Emilyy's avatar

Wow, this one hits close to home for me. My dad used to contstantly harass my sister and me about this very same issue and I’ve been made fun of for years by others. It would surprise me if nobody has ever told this girl that this is an issue, so she’s probably aware of the problem. As someone who (for whatever reason…the environment I grew up in, I suppose) talks with a lot of “likes” throughout my conversations as well, I know that it can be really difficult to hear criticism about this issue. And truthfully, I really do want to mitigate the amount of valleygirl speak that comes out of my mouth. And, for what it’s worth, I think that it does generally improve with age.

The thing is, it is actually quite difficult to consciously change the way that you speak. Have you ever tried to do that? Would you ask someone who speaks with a southern accent or an ethnic-sounding accent to change the way that they speak to sound more professional? It’s something that this intern has been doing for 20 years of her life, and you can’t just flip a switch and automatically change the way that she speaks. Clearly you managed to get past her manner of speaking to learn that she is very bright and astute—don’t you think that others will? AND, it makes someone a lot more nervous and insecure to bring up something like this, especially if she’s about to go in for a big interview or something. I remember when giving presentations in school, kids would count how many times I said “like” during a presentation. I would get flustered and upset and be unable to focus on my talk.

I think that the bottom line is, everyone has a different manner of speaking. Bringing it to her attention in the ways that have already been suggested would be fine, but just make sure to take into consideration that when she’s in that interview, she might be focusing so hard on “sounding” different that she might not be able to just be herself, which would be a shame.

I hope this helps. But, what do I know? I’m just, like, a valleygirl, too. Totally.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
jacksonRice's avatar

i kind of agree with luv2… is it so bad that it’s worth telling her? i mean, you were obviously able to see past her speaking habits to the hardworking side of her… wouldn’t your supervisor?

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