Dr. Valerie Fridland — The Good Side of Bad Language

Bill Gallagher

How can bad language enhance the way you connect with others? There is power in language. As a leader, the way you articulate your company’s value and vision matters. There is power in using language intentionally and connecting with others with the words you use.


Professor Valerie Fridland is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Nevada, Reno. She received her Ph.D. in Linguistics, with a specialization in Sociolinguistics, from Michigan State University. As a sociolinguist, Professor Fridland’s main focus is on varieties of American English. The goal of her research is to better understand how variability in speech production relates to variability in speech perception and how social identity affects speech.


The pattern of our speech has a huge impact on our behavior toward others, how persuasive we are, and how we are perceived by others. Often we use language not simply to fit in, but more impactfully, to stand out. Novel speech draws others in, in ways that basic words simply don’t have the power to do.


The words you use have the power to either make others sit up and take notice of you, or dismiss you without a second thought. Yet it is self-consciousness about language that paralyzes too many leaders. Valerie highlights the value of novelty in language and how it can be used as a power to stand out in a crowd.


Many of us cringe at the “umms” and “uhs” that slip out in our business conversations, but there is no scientific evidence that using those phrases has a negative impact on our message, especially when using unfamiliar or larger vocabulary. Valerie shares how to increase perceived authority with your voice pitch and how your language can increase the impact of your message.


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Valerie Fridland



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