Uptalk: The Pesky Speech Pattern That Undermines Your Authority

Lela Davidson

This one time? At band camp? We don't need to talk about how that one ends, but we do need to talk about the speech pattern that is derailing the most intelligent people, young and old, new and experienced.

Raising your tone at the end of a sentence, so that your message comes across as a question rather than a statement, is known as HRT (high rise terminals) or uptalk. This pesky speech pattern is undermining your authority and making your audience question if you really know what you're talking about.

I know, right?

So annoying.

Like so many other like troublesome like vocal? like tendencies? uptalk is blamed by some on the influence of the "Valley Girl" mallspeak of the 1980s--beautifully captured in the quintessential movie of my adolescence, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Others blame the Japanese, the French, or the Australian soap, Neighbours. A few maintain that the style has been around since the dawn of speech itself.

While the origins of uptalk are up for debate, what is certain is that uptalk will sabotage your credibility if you're not paying attention.

Here's the good news: It's easy to find out if you're uptalking and it's easy to stop.

Step 1:  Ask your friends and the people you work with if you uptalk.

Step 2:  If the answer to Step 1 is yes, ask your friends and the people you work with to let you know when you uptalk.

Step 3:  Stop uptalking.

Your people will hold you accountable.

And the world will be a better place.