Uptalk is the term that refers to ending statements with an upward inflection so they sound like questions.
And you may be noticing this more and more — at work, among friends, in the broadcast news media. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. It seems everyone from Psychology Today to the BBC to The Smithsonian is reporting on this growing trend.
And not in a good way.
Uptalk is almost universally considered annoying, not to mention confusing. Are you asking a question or making a statement? Do you believe what you’re saying or floating out a trial balloon? Are you afraid of the audience’s reaction if you actually have an opinion they disagree with?
Why does it matter to your career? Because you don’t hear it in the executive suite.
If you want to be taken seriously at work, most experts agree uptalk should be out. It can brand you as lacking confidence and credibility. It may sound like you’re cajoling instead of persuading. If you’re on the earlier side of your career — uptalk is more common among younger people — it could undermine your effectiveness as you strive to prove your workplace worth to Baby Boomer leadership.
To be fair, speaking with a rising inflection is cultural for some people, such as English speakers from Ireland, Scandinavia, India and Canada.
For the rest of us, think back: If you didn’t get buy-in from senior management on your last great idea, or missed out on a promotion or new job opportunity, ask yourself if your speech pattern could be holding you back. Better yet, ask a friend to listen to you and give you honest feedback.
Because how you communicate matters?