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What’s your name?…Are you sure? 6 Strategies to Develop Trust When You Introduce Yourself

Uncategorized Nov 06, 2020

My name is Christal-Lynn Reed. Most people call me Christal; however, my parents and those influenced by my parents call me Christal-Lynn. I can count on less than one hand the number of times someone has spelled my name correctly the first time in my whole life, as there are several spelling variations for each of my names. Moreover, my name is erroneously spelled with a capital letter after the hyphen.  I used to tell people “My name is Christal spelled like Christ.” However, most people just gave me a strange look and never understood the spelling connection, so I dropped that strategy. I ALWAYS introduce myself as “Christal.” I NEVER answer to “Chris.” Please call me “Christal.”

However, I have noticed that my clients and potential clients are not as sure about what they wish to be called. Is your name long and difficult to pronounce? Is it unique in some way? Do you feel pressure from your parents to express your name in a...

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8 Strategies to Create Meaningful Connections in Your On-line Meetings (or Wearing a Mask)

Uncategorized Nov 06, 2020

Are you wondering how on-line meetings and masks are effecting your relationships? My clients have expressed concerns about diminished clarity and connections with others. 

I am also concerned about the ability of my favourite people - hard-working, advanced English-speaking engineers and technical professionals - to build relationships amid this new reality. Recently, while at the grocery store, I asked a staff member a question. After she repeated her answer twice, I realized that, although she was doing her best, I was not going to be able to understand her. She had a foreign accent; however, I am positive that if she had not been wearing a mask, I would have understood her. This is a consideration for my clients, as well.

In a recent Zoom training session, while discussing the issue of masks with a client, he suggested that native English speakers also need to step-up their game. I agree! Even if English is your first language, if you have a low voice, speak quickly,...

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10 Recommendations to Help You ENJOY Reading in English

Uncategorized Oct 05, 2020

Aaaah, the joy of relaxing with a good book. We tend to read for pleasure at the end of the day when our work is done. We want the story to take us to new places and introduce us to new peoples. A good book helps us forget about the ‘to do’ lists, problems, and deadline issues of the day. Moreover, we know that reading is key to improving our English. However, how many times have you started reading a book in English and not finished it? Or, worse yet – forced yourself to finish it. Reading in a foreign language can be a challenge, and therefore, not very relaxing (I know this because, currently, I am learning Portuguese.). Alas, help is on the way.  Here’s today’s reading suggestions so that you can relax with a good book once again.

Although our reading level may not be fully developed, our minds are. We’re adults, and we want to read material designed for adults. I get it. If you’re reading at a beginner level, you don’t want...

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Your Accent is Your Gift

Uncategorized Oct 05, 2020

You wonder why your advanced level of English does not seem to be enough to propel your career forward, and you think it is because of your accent.

 But it’s not!

 Your accent is your gift to your employer and your community – a gift that tells the world that you are bi-cultural and bi-lingual. It means that your box is larger than those who only speak one language. It needn’t be a hindrance to communicating clearly, building meaningful relationships, or advancing in your career. 

Somewhere along the way, you became convinced that the goal is to sound like a native English speaker. Therefore, you chose an English accent to copy – British, American, Canadian, etc. This mindset suggests that your accent is not as good as a native English speaker’s (yes, all native English speakers have an accent!). Allow me to explain why this strategy and mindset are not serving you well.

  1. Because you don’t or can’t implement all of the...
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A Tale of Two Engineers – An Ethical Quandary

Uncategorized Sep 14, 2020

Once upon a time, there were two engineers named “Confident” and “Agitated”. Both engineers were very passionate about being ethical; however, while one faced no challenges, dilemmas, or conflicts related to ethics, the other certainly did.  What is the difference between these two engineers?

During my Needs Assessment meetings with engineers, I typically ask them whether they are able to solve staff, client, and leadership issues with a positive energy. The answers of two engineers with whom I recently met were surprisingly different.  “Confident” stated that engineering issues are relatively easy to resolve with a positive energy because one can always refer to the technical data or OPEGA’s code of standards and ethics. However, “Agitated”, who was also passionate about ethical engineering and business practices, confided that he was often asked to do work in a way that he deemed to be unethical. He was noticeably...

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27 Ways to Say, “You’re Wrong!” and Still Be Friends

Uncategorized Aug 31, 2020

My clients tell me, their employers tell me, and others tell me that non-native English-speaking professionals are reticent to tell anyone that they’re wrong. I get it! Nobody wants to offend colleagues, clients, and other stakeholders. However, as an engineer you bring strengths to the table that are unique from other stakeholders, and sometimes it is necessary to set the record straight.

The following 27 expressions are divided into five categories are listed from the strongest to the most subtle, diplomatic, and friendly ways of saying, “You’re wrong.” 

  1. You’re wrong!
  2. No, you’ve got it wrong.
  3. No, that’s all wrong.
  4. That’s wrong.
  5. You made an error.
  6. You made a mistake.

Expressions 1 to 6 are very strong. However, you can still use them at certain times and in specific situations.  For example, in emergencies or safety situations where there is the short-term imperative to be correct that is more important than the...

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Have you Crossed the Last Milestone in English?

Uncategorized Aug 17, 2020

Can you tell a good joke?  English humour is the last milestone for most English speakers.  Why do we care if we understand the joke? Well, for sure – nobody wants to be left out of the joke. It can feel awkward when we don’t “get” the joke.

How does humour help us?

  • Softens stressful situations.
  • Adds to your charisma.
  • Adds clarity (such as metaphors)
  • Creates common ground
  • Creates engagement or interest in a dry conversation or presentation
  • Makes you likable – builds relationships
  • Demonstrates confidence

Have you ever been the butt of someone’s joke?

Although there are many ways that humour can help our relationships with others, there are probably even more ways that it can hurt our relationships. We all know someone who thinks she is funny, yet never fails to offend us. His jokes are hurtful or off-colour or derogatory to women or minorities or religious sects or someone. This individual is gregarious and delivers his jokes...

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How to Present Like a Thought-leader – Regardless of Your English Level

Uncategorized Aug 03, 2020

At the end of your engineering presentations, what happens when you ask if there are any comments or questions? Is there silence? 

Presentations, in the broader sense, include much more than standing in front of a group of people and offering a monologue of your thoughts.  Presentations can include anything that you can prepare for, including an important meeting, a job interview, or an important discussion.

The key for non-native English speakers is preparation.  A little preparation can dramatically improve your comprehensibility because your brain is not required to multi-task quite as much.  Therefore, you can focus on enunciating your words, as well as conveying the underlying message with appropriate word choices and intonation. 

Sometimes preparation can be as quick and easy as bullet points on a stick-it note. Being organized in how you present your thoughts sends a powerful message of professionalism.  Use words like first, then, next, finally....

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Are you observer, yes-man, nay-sayer, or thought leader at meetings?

engineers leaders meetings Jul 25, 2020

Are you the observer, the yes-man, the nay-sayer, or the thought leader at meetings?

Meetings create opportunities to influence others. to make decisions, or to solve problems? Each person in the discussion has a role to play in reaching the objectives. Forget about your title for a moment. What is your role in the discussion? Are you the observer, the yes-man, the nay-sayer, or the thought leader?

How can you up-your-game? Before you walk into the meeting, take sixty seconds to set the intention to:

1. Speak slowly and clearly

2. Smile and make eye contact

3. Prepare a post-it-note of bullets with the points you wish to contribute

4. Support others by affirming their suggestions or complimenting them

5. Create the mindset of the leader you intend to be

Ask for feedback regarding your meeting participation at your next performance review.

Let’s talk about your plan to develop the clear, confident, authentic, cross-cultural communication style of thought leaders. 

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Did you know that vowels hold the emotion of the language?

clarity engineers vowels Jul 18, 2020

Did you know that vowels hold the emotion of the language? The problem is that vowels can be so tricky to master for non-native English speakers, can’t they?  Here is one simple strategy you can implement to shift your clarity.

Often times the non-native speakers aren’t giving their vowels enough time to complete the sound. Savour your vowels like a piece of delicious, melt-in-your-mouth, dark chocolate cake. Holding your vowels for a fraction of a second longer not only allows you to convey how you feel about the words you say, but it will also improve comprehensibility. Therefore, your audience will also be more engaged with your message. Engagement means that you have made that all-important connection – a connection that creates the possibility for you to resolve conflicts, land the job, and close the deal!

Your Tip: Read out loud for five minutes a day. Children’s stories are perfect for practicing to bring the message alive with your voice. Read it...

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