A student walks up to me after the class I taught as a substitute today…
‘You’re gonna hate me… but all these boxes… this is how many times today you said the word ‘okay’…
Damn, that is a lot of boxes. 270. During a class where I’d told them how important it is to get rid of verbal tics to express yourself with more impact. Verbal tics like: you know, like ummm, errrr, you know, like, uhhhh, you know what I mean? Exactly. If you actually believe and have conviction in what you’re saying, trying to qualify it with ‘you know’s or ‘know what I mean’ s or ‘like’? just waters down and weakens your opinion.
Oh, and the one verbal tic I forgot to mention: ‘Okay.’ 270 god damn times.
That student made a bad first impression on me a while back, interrupting a class I was teaching to ask a dumb question (if he left his water bottle in the room). Then today he comes up and says that.
And hell no did I hate it –I LOVED IT. I want feedback. Especially negative. I’m trying to get good at handling it. And here’s someone who drew a shitload of boxes and handed it to me without asking.
A personality trait can make people dislike you at first but then it’s the reason you make an authentic connection. His abrasiveness pissed me off at first, but today, it’s the characteristic that made him do what he did and say what he said. And what me think this guy is awesome – him being him. I have a new favourite student.
He also told me asked me if I knew where ‘Okay’ comes from and that it’s originally a military term. 0 as in zero and K as in ‘killed’. So 0k, as in, ‘all good, no problems, no casualties’. Reports vary on the true origin but nevertheless, knowing you say something 270 times in 4 hours is a good time to pull it back, especially if you are actually saying 0 people have been murdered.
Sidenote: This is the 100th post I’ve written in the first 100 days of this blog. It’s significant for me because I wrote and published 0 things in the last 1505 days before that, going back to 2012. 101 days ago I listened to a podcast by Joshua Spodek on Write With Impact. He’s written a post every day for the last 5 years and in the episode he says, ‘If you miss one day, you’ll miss two. And if you miss two it’s all over.’ It’s the best piece of advice I’ve heard and the one that is responsible for me loving writing again and doing it everyday. It’s a great lesson for doing anything that you want to get better at.