Wednesday, March 11, 1998 at 07:39:12

Delightful website! Thanks. Discovered the filled pause @ my 1st Toastmasters meeting in 1988, realized I was an offender, changed my speech immediately to prefer silence until the bon mot arrives. Best of luck!

- GR

You've hinted at something I've been hypothesizing about. The motivation for using a FP is the need to hesitate--the following word or phrase is not yet prepared.   However, if the FP is ruled out as a hesitation technique then some other technique must replace it:  silent pauses, lengthening, other lexicalizations, brief digressions and/or redundancies.  All of which may be less irritating to the speaker, although they do not necessarily mean a more speedy transmission of the message.  You said that you now prefer silent pauses.  In public speaking where one has clear dominance of the discourse, silent pauses are safe and probably far more effective than FPs.  However, in informal conversations, silent pauses are often taken as clues that the speaker has finished.  Do you find yourself interrupted more as you leave pauses unfilled?  Or have you developed an alternate technique to 'hold the floor'?

Yes, in ordinary conversation among strangers, I'm often interrupted.  I haven't timed the tolerated  interval of silence, but it's remarkably brief before some listener's anxiety applies sound as relief, whereas I might prefer another second or two of silence either as punctuation before logical shift or, as you suggest, just as hesitation to collect the next sentence.

What do I do when interrupted?  This is an aesthetic choice based on the array of one's values.  Typically, in a group, I listen to the round of conversation and if, in the course of talk, another opportunity to contribute arises, I may take it if it "fits".  Normally, I'll respect the logical flow which moves on beyond whatever point I may've been planning to make.  "Holding the floor" is rarely my primary value.

This ordinary civility, of course, doesn't prevent me from concluding that the interrupter is a barbarian with no sense of peaceful flow.  It also doesn't prevent me from feeling some small regret about the eventual loss of value to other listeners if the point had been made, my own or another's.  Philosophically, though, I trust the universe to find ways to express whatever it wishes to get expressed, through one or another of the infinite variety of resources at its disposal.

Alone, particularly in conversation among intimates, I'll note the interruption as a matter of curiosity and a consciousness-raiser: "You interrupted."  The sovereign Other will then respond according to his or her own values.

Bottom line: Silence has value; imperfect human conversation has value; reason has value; I'm grateful for the striving mish-mash.

You are obviously an intelligent and literate speaker.  It is a shame that anyone would interrupt you.  They would probably learn more by being silent and letting you finish your thoughts.

My pleasure!  Best of luck.

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Last Revised: 99/08/26

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