One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday morning is spread out the Washington Post on the coffee table, settle in with a good cup of joe, and watch CBS Sunday Morning. During a recent broadcast they discussed a relatively new phenomenon known as “The Vocal Fry” Being that French fries are my all-time favorite junk food, my interest was immediately piqued.
Turned out to not be exactly what I had been expecting.
It’s a little difficult to explain a vocal fry. It’s a guttural tapering off at the end of a sentence that conveys condescension, a kind of world-weariness, or, to me, stupidity. Think Kim Kardashian (ugh, I hate to even mention her). This entire generation of young women seems to be just so bored with it all.
As I was later lamenting about these disaffected women of today – honestly, what’s their problem?! – I got called on it. Pot to kettle, guess what, you’re black.
Here’s the thing: I grew up in the time of Valley Speak. OH MA GAWD! was the mantra of the day. I would have surely been offended if all women of the eighties, including me, were categorized as Valley Gurlz. But in the interest of full disclosure, I did use the terms “like” and “for sure” way too often. Still do. It’s been suggested that perhaps I should not be so quick to judge the vocal fry gals.
All this talk about verbal communications has me also thinking about my own verbal cues, little personal ticks or traits that I use to communicate during discussions. One of my verbal cues that drives my Dad nuts is that during a conversation, when I agree with you, I’ll emphatically reply;
Then I lean in and proceed to explain why I believe you’re right. It’s a way to interrupt and insert my own opinion. Yes, it’s a bit obnoxious.
I also have a shortcut that I use to disagree with someone. If you say something that I don’t necessarily agree with, I will utter a fairly dismissive;
That’s it. Talk about a conversation killer; in one little three letter word I have shot you down.
In my current heightened state of verbal awareness, I’ve also been noticing the cues of others. For example, one of my best gal pals uses a cue that is non-verbal, but very effective. When she disagrees with something that is being said, she presses her lips together and raises her eyebrows, to seemingly convey I really don’t agree with you, but I’m too nice to say it out loud, so I’ll suppress my displeasure, but I want you to know that I think you’re wrong. According to the Center for Non-Verbal Studies this is known as “lip compression.”
My Mom’s verbal cues are my favorite. Especially when we are in the car, if she does not like the way you are driving, she will occasionally pronounce;
I really cannot do justice to the affect that this sound has on me. In one utterance she is able to convey that the driver needs to slow down, move over, put on your blinker, wait for the car to pass, and turn left.
I guess in the end we all have to find our voice. Valley Speak or Vocal Frys; we all learn to convey our feelings. So perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to judge these younger women who are just working to effectively communicate, right?
How about you; what are your own personal verbal cues?
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Julieanne Case saysOctober 11, 2013 at 7:53 pm
Yikes, I most likely do. I will interrupt if I can't wait to share my better opinion. I shall observe and see what my cues are. Ugggg. More to change.
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Gloria M. Miele, Ph.D. saysOctober 10, 2013 at 8:10 am
Hilarious! I heard a piece on NPR about the vocal fry, and you have added to my understanding. I must admit, I'm also a big fan of "huh."
Kimba saysOctober 10, 2013 at 9:45 am
Yeah, I 'm working on the whole "huh" thing. Found myself uttering it just yesterday – damn thing sure does work well!
Karo saysOctober 9, 2013 at 7:17 pm
Hi Kim, I think that verbal fry is actually a bit different (and worse) than the examples you give in your post. To me, verbal fry sounds as if you were rushing to finish the sentence no matter what, even if you're out of breath, so no one can jump in and disrupt you. I think that women have such beautiful voices but they masacre them with the fry. Suddenly, you have a bunch of women who want to distinguish themselves but who, in the end, sound similar. 🙂 I hope it's a short-lived phenomenon that will go away soon (this is my very optimistic self speaking).
Kimba saysOctober 10, 2013 at 9:43 am
Well, it seems that as long as we have the Kardashians, we'll have the vocal fry. Sigh.
Greg saysOctober 6, 2013 at 8:45 am
"Exactly!" ….. Love this week's blog ! 🙂
Kimba saysOctober 6, 2013 at 9:31 am
Haha honey… "The bottom line is…"
Shanelle saysOctober 4, 2013 at 4:47 pm
I loved this. Such a great reminder of the language we choose and how it can shape our world and more importantly, the non-verbal stuff and the impact it has! Thank you for the smile you've brought to my face this morning!
Kim Dalferes saysOctober 5, 2013 at 9:40 pm
Well Shanelle, a smile is a great non-verbal cue for sure. Smiling right back at ya.
Vicki saysOctober 4, 2013 at 1:15 pm
I remember one of your grandmother's vocal cues…"Oh Lordy". Thanks for the laugh. Sometimes we utter these little "words" without even realizing it & after having it mentioned to us..notice how much we DO!
Kim Dalferes saysOctober 5, 2013 at 9:39 pm
Vicki, I'm fully aware of my verbal tisc and I still catch myself doing them all the time. Tough habits to break.
Angela Gower-Johnson saysOctober 4, 2013 at 11:05 am
No! No! NO!!! Don't shine a light on my communication. I am notorious for loosing my train of thought mid sentence. I will go to LaLa Land and just vacate the conversation, forgetting what I was previously saying and have to start all over again! Not joking… I also clap my hands when someone says something I like. Really, I do. If someone is taking too long to explain something I will jump in and cut them off. I will also jump in and tell my point of view or story if I am just excited. I also start a conversation in the middle because an idea has been playing in my mind and wonder why people are functioning from 'WTF?' and have no idea what I'm talking about? Could they not hear me thinking? All in all I'm a nightmare to talk to… Unless you are psychic and you love to have someone cheering on your fab ideas, talk to anyone else, a tree would be less frustrating and definitely less embarressing. I'm not sure why you would go out to dinner with a tree, but if you weigh out tree versus taking someone that claps when you say something good and raises her voice as the excitement grows and laughs out loud at your jokes, possibly clapping you might choose a tree……
Kim Dalferes saysOctober 5, 2013 at 9:29 pm
Angela, I now have a nickname for you: Clapper. Sorry, but that one is going to stick!! 😉
Drewdy saysOctober 4, 2013 at 9:07 am
The vocal fry also has an element of females wishing to sound more like males – deep voiced and gutteral. My daughter did a piece on it earlier. see here. http://citypaper.com/news/columns/fry-now-pay-layer-1.1249525
I had a friend / workmate who shook her head side-to-side when she was emphatically AGREEING with you. Her head said "No No" but she was empahtically agreeing. I could never figure her out.
I, being near-perfect, have no such verbal cue faults.
Kim Dalferes saysOctober 5, 2013 at 9:25 pm
Hola Drew – thanks for posting the link to that article. And, of course you're perfect!
Phyllis M Alston saysOctober 4, 2013 at 8:59 am
Hello Kim, Thank you for your work this week. You are so on point. Language is so important not just in how we communicate but in how our language (often unconsciously) affect our relationships. As a Certified NLP Practitioner since 1994, my ears and eyes are trained to listen to not only body lauguage but also the actual words and patterns that I use and those I am speaking with. I look forward to your next blog. -Peace & Blessings! Phyllis
Kim Dalferes saysOctober 5, 2013 at 9:24 pm
Hi Phyllis. Mind if I ask – what does "NLP" stand for?
Martine Joseph saysOctober 4, 2013 at 8:37 am
Kimba, Thank you for the laughs! This is the funniest blog I have read in a LONG time. My non-verbal cue is I LEAVE THE ROOM when people blame and complain! LOL! Doing my disappearing act. Then others can do the lip compression. OMG!
Kim Dalferes saysOctober 5, 2013 at 9:22 pm
Well Martine, that's a pretty effective non-vebal cue for sure!!