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Your Accent is Your Gift

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 mechanisms of your chosen accent, so your communication may lack clarity at times – especially in those important events or with those important people that elevate your stress level. 

 

  1. Because copying an accent can create a communication style that lacks expressiveness – one can feel constrained in presenting ideas authentically, as they would in their native language.  

 

  1. Because in order to build trust and relationships, the goal must be 100% clarity, including in those subtle, diplomatic conversations in which the relationship is key. 

 

  1. Because when an accent is difficult to understand, the speaker sounds foreign, creating a social barrier that need not be there. Alternatively, when the speaker is easy to understand and engaging to listen to, he or she sounds international. People are attracted to the charisma of an international speaker. 

 

  1. Because advanced non-native English speakers often experience a bottleneck in their career at the point on the leadership track where their career transitions from talking about tasks to talking about ideas and relationships.

 

Communication is about more than completing tasks – it is about connecting with others in meaningful ways to achieve results, which is the essence of a clear, confident, authentic speaking style  - in any accent. 

Your accent is a gift. I would never want to eliminate someone’s accent (even if I could).  Many, many of my clients over the years have expressed their desire to sound like a native English speaker. I persuade them to embrace their accent and focus on developing a communications style that is both clear and expressive so that they can present their ideas like the thought leaders that they are.