Dear Readers: When you’re on a job interview, or answering questions in a. professional setting, how are your speech patterns? Many people are in the bad habit of using filler words. “Um,” “uh,” “like,” “well,” “so” and “you know” are the most popular filler words.

We were taught as kids to answer a question right away, so if someone asks us a business question, we tend to jump in and say one of the above filler words before formulating a sensible response.

The trick to avoid using filler words? According to a study from Harvard University, pause just a moment. When an interviewer says, “Tell me about a time when you saved your employer money,” take a breath, look the interviewer in the eye and begin.

Some argue that speakers sound more homespun, relaxed and natural when they use filler words. This doesn’t work in business. Eliminating filler words will make your speech more commanding and powerful.

Practice with a friend to eliminate filler words from your vocabulary.

Dear Heloise: Leslie B. in Houston wrote about the need to include detailed information on prescription bottles. Yet pharmacies provide paperwork with medications once the prescription is filled. Contents of the printed material address the need to take with (or without) food, color and marking of the pills, possible side effects and similar information. The Internet also can provide this information.

Given the small size of many pill bottles, including the information that she proposed would make the type size minuscule! Seniors have vision issues, so this would defeat the purpose of adding more information to the bottles.

Leslie O., via email

Dear Readers: Those stick-figure stickers on the back of your minivan that showcase your family? They may give out too much information.

Somebody with bad intentions could possibly use the stickers to figure out your movements. If your sticker shows a boy in a football uniform, your family could be away from home on game nights.

They are cute and trendy, but not always a good idea. And names under the stickers are a definite no-no.

Dear Heloise: Here's a meal-planning hint: I put a handy, alphabetized list of my spices on my phone. When planning a recipe, I simply refer to the list to see what I have at home. This prevents buying duplicate spices!

Sandy L., Papillion, Neb.

Sandy L.: Why stop at spices? Thanks for the hint!

Dear Heloise: My mouse pad has become discolored due to contact with skin oils. Do I have any hope of getting it clean?

Jennifer in Los Angeles

Jennifer in Los Angeles: There is always hope. How about a quick swipe of either rubbing alcohol or witch hazel on a cotton pad? The mouse pad may not come perfectly clean, but its worn patch is testament to your hard work!

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to

2019, King Features Syndicate