Hmm.  This is, um, kinda fascinating.

The filler words "um" and "uh" are used differently by men and women, and the genders tend to pick one over the other.  And it may signal something about our personalities. highlights some research that says men tend to use the word "uh," and women tend to use "um" most often.  They quote one researcher with this gem:  "I suspect men use /uh/ as a place-holder. Women use /um/ as a backchannel indicating, “that’s interesting, I’m thinking about it.”   In other words, men use words to keep the floor, and women use words to let others know they're thinking about what's being said.

Maybe the words that seem meaningless aren't so meaningless after all.

I'm fascinated with word choice, story-telling styles, and all things communication. What goes on in our heads is amazing and goofy sometimes!  I minored in Communication in college so I've always been sucked in by this stuff.

So ladies, don't beat yourself up over too many "ums."  They just mean you're a good listener.  And besides, "um" is a way better filler than "you know."

More From Mix 106