People are great imitators. As a matter of fact that’s how most of us learn to speak–by imitating others.

Unfortunately, a speech pattern that many people are imitating today–one I call ” therapist talk”, also sometimes called Valley Girl talk–is the sing-song pattern. This way of speaking ends almost all sentences on an upward inflection. It makes statements sound tentative, as if the speaker is uncertain of what she’s saying.

I find it very difficult to listen to. In fact, I disconnect when a speaker uses this pattern. For one thing, it quickly becomes annoying. For another, it interferes with the sense of what is being said. And since most of us did not grow up speaking this way, it sounds like an affectation.

It has other problems. In a business or leadership situation, you need to sound as if you mean what you say. That’s very difficult to do when your sentences sound as if they are questions.

When you’re in charge and giving directions, it’s even more important to convey confidence. Speaking in the sing-song pattern makes you sound uncertain, and make others more willing to question you.

The best speakers don’t use this inflection. They make a statement sound like a statement.

Do yourself a favor: sound as if you mean what you say. Let your voice drop at the end of your sentences–unless you’re asking a question.

Leave the ‘therapist talk for the therapists.