Manage your words well

Using English well in an international context is as important for native speakers of the language as it is for non-native students and other international users of English.

Whether this is because English happens to be the lingua franca of the organisation, company, corporation or community, or because those involved in any meeting have chosen to use English themselves, there is every chance that there will be people with differing ranges of experience and ability in the language, just as this would also be the case with people speaking French, Hungarian, Russian, Spanish, Mandarin, Turkish, Arabic, Swahili or Gaelic!

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Who of us can say we would be confident to attempt to do all that we do in our own language in any other language? We can perhaps learn how to order a prawn sandwich or a taxi, or to greet someone at the airport, wish them a good journey or thank them for their help. This does not take long and is a sensitive and polite thing to do when doing business with others.  It shows that we have made a little effort to learn about their ways.

Just as we can learn a few words, we can also learn about the cultures we interact with.

This process works both ways, because – though there is common ground within cultures for anything that we may need to discuss, and certainly room for exploration in a number of areas (or business would never happen or have been going on for thousands of years!) – there are also certain highly sensitive areas of “sacred ground” where discussion may be very difficult or even impossible.

Encroaching on these sensitive spots is risky and potentially rude. This is as true of the English-speaking culture as it is of any other.

The things that affect our identity are hard to define and having a well-researched book to refer to is essential; I recommend Richard Lewis’ excellent work for a clear and intelligent model when entering new ground in any culture.

Where the deeply-embedded elements of a culture’s specific core value system and the individual’s own modus operandi can have multiple layers that are not open to scrutiny, the language itself can give us the clues we need to how a people think.

We should take care with our words whether with other native speakers or with non-native speakers.

The Ratners Jewellery store in Regent Street, London, part of the chain owned by Gerald Ratner, which made a 112 million profit in 1990.

The Ratners Jewellery store in Regent Street, London, part of the chain owned by Gerald Ratner, which made a 112 million profit in 1990.

Careless language can be very costly. 

A famous story is that of successful businessman Gerald Ratner who in 1991 wiped £500m off his share value with one speech, when talking of his own high-street jewellery, he inadvisedly announced it was “cheaper than an M&S prawn sandwich and probably wouldn’t last as long”.

Another story is that of the Topman clothing chain and the firm’s brand director, David Shepherd, asked in an interview in 2001 to clarify the target market for his clothes, he replied: “Hooligans or whatever.”  He went on: “Very few of our customers have to wear suits for work. They’ll be for his first interview or first court case.”

The company later suggested that the word “hooligan” would not be seen as an insult among its customers.

happy hooligan

Such careless words may seem amusing or tough but they have consequences. In 2006, John Pluthero, the UK chairman of Cable & Wireless, sent a memo to staff, which said: “Congratulations, we work for an underperforming business in a crappy industry and it’s going to be hell for the next 12 months.” He warned of job losses and added: “If you are worried that it all sounds very hard, it’s time for you to step off the bus.”  Many did just that and found work elsewhere.

Another pitfall is translation and translation devices. They are not capable of understanding cultural and linguistic nuance. The ambiguity of translation is well summed-up with the example of a biblical quote, meant to express the struggle facing the industry at that time and to motivate the employees to make an extra effort, and that was used in an after-dinner speech translated into German
“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”.
This came out as “The schnapps is strong but the meat is rotten”

turn off

Language is not a set of conditioned responses triggered by previous words, because we can change these patterns at will. This allows us creativity and individualism.  Chomsky’s “poverty of the input” hypothesis tells us that what a child can produce in language is MORE than the input they have received via their parents or peers. This “new potential language” has come from within the child as he/she has acquired the deeper syntax. Somehow, the child knows that the structure  “Daddy what did you bring that book that I don’t want to be read to out of, up for?” is the only right use of syntax for English, for this question.

Pace is a deciding factor. People are more inclined to get excited and emotional speaking their own language than speaking English, this is hard to lose in a foreign language, suggesting that the control of output and having to pace themselves, will affect themselves and others

Impact

There are several negative and positive associations: native speakers are imagined to have more sensitivity but often they have less. Consequently natives can benefit from observing how a non-native speaks, or try to compose themselves in FL to see how it feels.

Having a slower pace enables better listening and more self-composure. However the emotions inside the L2 speaker are likely to be very high and for the L1 speaker, having to modify their language to obtain better results may at times feel frustrating, too.

portfolio-style

At PIE we can help you develop sensitivity to language that leads you to better outcomes. As a non-native we can show you how English works and how to use it effectively, in your own specific situation, according to different scenarios and your personal choices, understanding norms and idiosyncrasies.

Equally important, as a native speaker we can show you how good language management will lead you to better relationships, deeper awareness of communication and the avoidance of costly mistakes, and to a level of self-composure that is not over-confident but mature and manifested in a spirit of mutual respect.

What makes a good blog about “confidence”?

Julia B&W

Julia, our expert in voice coaching and performance skills in acting, says

“I guess the basic thing for attracting people to a blog is – if someone has a lack of confidence – they’ll be looking, not at blogs which talk about “acupuncture”, but at blogs that talk aboutconfidence“!!

“Talking about methods is useless without a ‘hook’ of a problem people want to address, such as confidence tools, communicating with confidence,  the projection of confidence…”

She continues: “…..people think acting is different, but it can help with meetings and business in fantastic ways!”
 
“There’s the issue of confidence…  when feeling nervous, the actual confidence which comes from knowing you can handle a meeting does not imply that the methods a person uses will create total confidence without nerves, but that the adrenaline or nerves are controlled – like a trained animal!”
 
“I’m thinking of acting as an example… and I did give talks too as a child – it was scary but I did it, the English Speaking Board; you had a prepared talk then the examiner would discuss other things you were interested in and define ONE. It was quite something really! there were other people there too, an audience of family…”
 
For her – whatever the age – being stuck in front of a load of people and an examiner was daunting… and at PIE we use NLP and hypnotherapy too, to overcome issues..
 
“The prepared talk was fine, then the imptomptu talk was shorter and I recall I had a few minutes to ‘create’ a structure in my head… I was young! I remember my mum in the audience all red faced but proud!  I think that elocution helped because it gave a focus too regarding HOW I was to convey the talk.”
 
 
“There were the background tools of emphasis and pacing and how to make the voice carry to the back of the room, and the breathing also to control nerves… picking a subject and making it interesting; picking out main points… That is what people identify with!”
 
“Otherwise a blog is a professional ‘paper’ and detached from their own experience; it is about connecting so they see their own problem in it and see how you’ve addressed it.”
 
In “the Third Tribe”, Chris Brogan is quoted as saying that the heart of good blogging is addressing people’s pain. Most of us are familiar with the saying “People don’t google ‘aspirin’; they google ‘headache’.”
 
As coaches, we’re solving the problems that people would google!

New events in the area!

Hi everyone,

We have added a calendar of some local events of interest including what’s on at the theatre at the Mill at Sonning and also at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford upon Avon..

Please click the link to our calendar page..

.Calendar of events

On the same page you’ll find a widget with the latest weather forecasts for the area!

Weather forecast

We hope to share this with you in person, when you come to England for performance coaching in English!

Performance in English in RussianUK magazine

RussianUK

Performance in English in RussianUK magazine

We are delighted to appear in the new edition of RussianUK magazine (edition 36) along with an article about our work, please take a look!

Мы рады появляться в статье, опубликованной в российском журнале Великобритании в этом месяце. Пожалуйста, обратите внимание на эту прекрасную издание!

RussianUK magazine