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E’ con piacere che ILS presenta Shanthi Streat, ILS English Language coach, come guest blogger del mese. Shanthi è un’esperta di lingua inglese e comunicazione. Questo è il primo di una serie di 3 blog post che verranno pubblicati nelle prossime settimane.
Are you apologising for your English? Do you end your email with “I am sorry for my grammar mistakes”? Are you apologising for your English after you’ve explained a complex point to a client?
Reasons why people are apologising
- Sympathy – They are so conscious of making mistakes in English that they think by blaming their ‘bad’ English for those mistakes, the other person will more sympathetic.
- Leniency – They so badly want to make a positive impression on their audience they think if they are apologising for their ‘poor’ English, they will be treated more leniently.
- Blame it on my English, not my message – They think if they apologise beforehand for their English, any lack of clarity will be blamed on their language mistakes and NOT on their message.
The thing is, by apologising, you beam a spotlight on the very thing you don’t want anyone to notice. Instead of focusing on your expertise and experience, your clients will now notice how you confused the second conditional tense or how you mistakenly used “pretendere instead of expect”. Small mistakes that risk sabotaging your message (and expertise) and eroding your confidence.
What’s ‘bad’ English anyway?
- “Using the wrong English tenses when I’m speaking.”
- “Not having enough sophisticated vocabulary to impress my audience.”
- “Not knowing when to use the present perfect tense in my meeting.”
- “Always using the same, simple words.
- “Getting prepositions confused.”
- “Not being able to pronounce certain words.”
- “Having a heavy accent.”
In essence, the given reasons as to why people not able to get that promotion; negotiate that important deal; impress their audience with their presentation or win over their bosses with that business proposal is because of their poor English grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary. Because, of course, knowing how to use the past perfect tense would clinch that deal, right? Or creating that complex sentence with impressive words and perfect grammar will persuade your client that you’re the one for the job.
They and you believe it would, so what do you do?
- Sign up for fluency classes
- Memorise long lists of phrasal verbs or new vocabulary
- Complete endless grammar worksheets
- Ask your English teacher to correct your every mistake
All in the hope that somehow this vocabulary will stick, the grammar mistakes will be eradicated and you’ll end up speaking like a ‘native speaker’ (without pausing and searching for your words).
You and I know that what actually happens is that those grammar worksheets end up in your desk drawer, the phrasal verbs and idiomatic expressions disappear into the deepest chasms of your brain and you freeze whenever someone asks you a question terrified of making a mistake. So you go back to apologising for your English with your confidence in tatters.
If you already work in an international company or deal with international clients and use English regularly, your English is more than good enough. You don’t need more English. What you need is to learn how to communicate better and more confidently. With the English you already have. Let’s get something straight. Being an effective business communicator isn’t about you. It isn’t about how many English words you know and about your mistake-free grammar. It’s about your audience. It’s about helping them do what you want them to do. It’s about speaking their language, actively listening to them (to understand not to reply), asking them questions, pausing, listening to them and answering their questions. Being a highly effective communicator is about pausing and reflecting on how exactly you’re going to achieve this.
As you reflect more, you become much more aware of how you communicate and better equipped to make the small tweaks to improve. As you apply the small tweaks, you’ll notice the difference in how you communicate which will restore your confidence in yourself and your English.
Try this strategy
Imagine you’re preparing to present at your next meeting. Instead of scrambling for those grammar and vocabulary sheets, put your English to one side and concentrate on what’s important – communicating your message clearly.
Reflect on 5 essential questions* – what, why, who, what and how. They are key to giving you razor-sharp clarity.
- What is your message? What is the purpose of your presentation?
- Why is your message important? Why should your audience care?
- Who is your audience? Stakeholders, clients? International speakers of English, like you?
- What do you need from them and what do they need from you to achieve your objective? For example, you need a commitment or an agreement, so what do they need from you to commit or agree.
- How are you going to communicate your message in a way that’s clear to your audience? Think about your audience’s knowledge, expertise, mastery of the language.
Once you’ve answered these 5 questions, you’re ready for the next step on your path to confidence – structuring your message and telling a powerful story.
This is the topic of my next article. Stay tuned.
Per informazioni sui corsi di lingua di ILS: http://ils-milano.com/contatti-ils-milano/