Word Of the Week #16: Melpya Syndrome

April 20, 2009 by  

Melpya Syndrome: what happens when you speak in a robotic way, very quickly, and create run on sentences.

Have you ever called a business or been addressed by a salesperson who talks so fast that you can’t understand what they are saying?

Mama's Little Helper

Mama's Little Helper

The first time it happened to me was in the south when a salesperson asked, “Melpya?” I had no idea what she said and not wanting to be rude I said, “I don’t care to be melped right now, but maybe later.” Well, I must say I heard Melpya more than once and it dawned on me that what they were asking, “May I help you?” All four words were ran together!

When you are in customer service and deal with people, a lot of the time you repeat the same information over and over. If that’s the case, you need to keep your message fresh! Change the way you say it from time to time so you don’t sound like you are on “auto pilot.”

When you are on “auto pilot” you are not paying attention. Try this. The next time you go shopping and the sales clerk says, “Can I help you?” Answer with, “No thank you, I’m just shoplifting today.” 8 out of 10 times their response is, “Well if you need any help, I’ll be right over here.” They are clearly not paying attention!

I have experienced servers who recite the salad dressings as if it is one long word, i.e., frenchthousandislanditalianbluecheese. I don’t feel any connection with them! Whether you are in person or answering the phone and people ask you to repeat what you said, then you are probably speaking to fast.

This week focus on speaking more clearly and slowing down your pace. Work on ways you can change the way you say the things that tend to be repetitive so your message is fresh and lively.

Reader Responses

“Susan, guilty as charged! I am working on this issue personally. I asked myself often why I speak so fast. The only answer I could find is that speaking overly slowly means to me that I am stupid and that I can’t get the words out of my mouth…hm! Well, there has to be a balance, I am looking for it! Thanks for the reminder!” — Kurt Bishofberger

“I have noticed family members who speak too quickly and unclearly. When I take my three-year-old daughter to work with me every day, I try to explain things in a snow and clear manner. I always try to answer EVERY one of her many questions every day. As for customer service situations, whenever I call the car dealership to schedule some repair work, the woman who answers the phone tries to jam so much into the response that I have to ask if I have the right dealership. Unfortunately, too many places of business do this and I find that at the end of their spiel I am asking, “What?” Enunciation. Pronunciation. Moderation. All of these are so important when speaking to people. Having to repeat information to customers uses up valuable time and slows down transactions. When I deal with people in these situations, I try to look them in the eye and listen to what is being said. I have to remind myself sometimes that many of the people I am dealing with have not had the chance to take public speaking or basic speech classes. But when asked to repeat information, some of them become frustrated. So, I try as best as I can to give them the benefit of the doubt. Communication on so many levels really affects the relationships we have in business. Thanks for the tip.” — “Warrior” Joe Moran

“I recently stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City, Washington, D.C. for a week and found their staff in the same robotic mode. Their service line is “My Pleasure!” I love this service mentality, however when you hear them saying it so many times, it begins to sound like you are hearing them say “Mplsure”, which is what you were talking about. It takes the enjoyment out of being pampered. The service staff were all robotic in their thank you and my pleasure comments. After a while, it looses its meaning and then the Ritz Carlton becomes just like all other hotels. I would rather hear sincerity in service, where you permit your employees to infuse their personalities with your Club or Hotel Service Culture, without taking away the professionalism. I do not believe service is something that you “cookie-cut” because when you do, you take away from genuine service, creating a service staff of robots. When I dine, or travel, I like to listen to the service staff, in particular when they go to the next table, after visiting my table. When I hear them saying the same thing, over and over, I just want to stand up and say, “Excuse me, can you just be yourself and get out of the robot mode, you are really beginning to bug me!” I would like to say that just once to see how it feels, ha, lol. Of course if I did this, I would be concerned with what they would do to my food before they served me from the kitchen.” — Don Vance

“That is great . . . Melpya! It took me a few minutes to get what you were saying. My granddaughter (9) has gotten lazy and says “yokum” for “your welcome.” Unless I just can’t find something I’m looking for, I usually shy away from sales clerks when I’m shopping and don’t always pay attention to them when they walk up. I will definitely have to start paying attention and try your answer of “no thank you, I’m just shoplifting today” when they walk up.” — Terry L. Green

“Ok, now that I have wiped the tears from my eyes from laughing so hard at my desk like a crazy person…..thanks again for your word of the week I LOVE THEM!!” — Vicky McNeill


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