I remember hearing an idea once – I’d like to cite it, but proper citation seems difficult, as I heard it from an acquaintance, and Mr. Google isn’t being his usual helpful self. The idea was, different politicians have these verbal tics, these filler catch-phrases, that indicate their deepest conversational anxieties.

For President Obama, it’s “let me be clear.” According to this thesis, he is really concerned about being unclear, and this tic is so prominent in his speech that it shows that his biggest anxiety is being insufficiently clear about something, as waffling, or evading the deep issue underlying all the petty concerns. And as an American paying some amount of attention, this made sense to me.

For President Trump, the tic under discussion (for he has many) was “believe me.” President Trump was concerned about being called out as a liar, because he was.

And when this discussion came up, I realized that my biggest verbal tick in conversation was “if that makes sense,” or the question form, “does that make sense?” And I realized that I did have anxiety that underlies this verbal tic, a deep suspicion that everything I’m saying is so befuddled and so indirectly and subtly put that it doesn’t make sense to the listener.

Does that make sense?