I work on a team with a bright, talented young woman who has a lot of potential. The problem is that our director and other colleagues are frustrated with her communication style, which is what you might call "Valley Girl." We really want her to do well and get ahead, and we believe the way she speaks is holding her back. Can you offer any tips on how to overcome this? She is generally open to constructive suggestions and I think she would follow your advice. — Trying to Help
Dear TH: "'Valleyspeak' is the verbal equivalent of coming to work looking like you just rolled out of bed," says executive speech coach Christine K. Jahnke. "It's sloppy and, worse, it distracts people's attention from your ideas and your performance. It can also wreck your chances of ever being selected for a job where you would be 'out front' dealing with clients."
Jahnke is president of Washington, D.C.-based coaching firm Positive Communications and has advised Michelle Obama and six state governors as well as executives at companies as diverse as the National Geographic Channel and NASCAR. She also wrote a new book, The Well-Spoken Woman: Your Guide to Looking and Sounding Your Best.
杨克现任华盛顿特区积极沟通培训公司（Positive Communications）总裁。第一夫人米歇尔•奥巴马曾接受过她的建议。美国总共六位州长都曾是她的客户。此外，她的客户还包括不同类型公司的高管，从国家地理频道（National Geographic Channel）到全国运动汽车竞赛协会（National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing）等等。最近，她还出了本新书——《职场指南：如何展现最美的形象和声音》（Your Guide to Looking and Sounding Your Best）。
One drawback to talking like a Valley Girl is that it often entails ending sentences with an upward inflection, as if they were questions, which "sounds as if you're seeking approval rather than making a statement," Jahnke says. "It makes you seem to lack confidence
in what you're saying."
Another unfortunate verbal habit: Peppering one's speech with "like" and "you know." Jahnke believes that Carolyn Kennedy's 2008 Senate bid failed in part because of public appearances -- including a New York Times interview that quickly went viral -- where, Jahnke recalls, Kennedy "seemed unable to articulate a complete thought without saying 'you know.'" Pundits also picked on Kennedy's "baby doll voice" and "tendency to ramble
," Jahnke says.
另一种不好的说话习惯是在谈话中中掺杂过多的口头禅，比如“就像”、“你知道”等等。杨克认为，卡洛琳•肯尼迪在2008年的参议员竞选中失利，部分原因就在于她在公开场合的表现，其中就包括《纽约时报》（New York Times）对她的一次专访。谈到那次专访，杨克回忆说：“如果不说‘你知道’，她好像就无法清楚完整的表达自己的观点。”另外，权威评论者还对肯尼迪的“娃娃音”和“散漫的个性倾向”提出了批评。
Of course, most of us (luckily) never have to stand in the intense public spotlight that candidates for public office face, but a less-than-polished speaking style can wreck anyone's career prospects, says Jahnke, and it becomes more of a sticking point the higher you go: "As you rise up the ladder, expect that every aspect of your speaking persona will face more intense scrutiny
So what can your colleague -- or anyone else -- do to change speech patterns that may have become ingrained over many years? "Most people really don't need a total overhaul
," Jahnke says. "They just need to correct one or two things."
She suggests the following four steps toward a more professional speaking style: