First off, I’m quick to remind everyone that men and women both use upspeak. Also, it can be as simple as being part of one’s dialect or accent. I believe upspeak is an adaptable skill, not a flaw. It may not be the right vocal tool for the job but it is not a personality deficit. It has received a lot of attention and has a negative connotation in today’s environment. If we think about why people use upspeak, we realize that often it’s used to soften our message – we don’t want to be “too much”. Upspeak can feel as if we are coming across as more caring, empathetic, less intense or pushy due to the ending of phrases having a lightness and lack of completion. We often use upspeak to take care of others. This is where intention and landing diverge: Our intention is to be careful that we are not coming across as knowing too much and it is often received as us not knowing much of anything at all. Because it is often misinterpreted it can undermine our authority on a subject. And, now that it has become a communication hot button it has even more baggage of leading the listener to the stereotype of flighty, silly and sometimes even incompetent when in reality it is most often the opposite.
Written by Hilary Blair, June 7, 2018