Speaking can be full of liabilities. Voice should be a straightforward medium to help and support us to communicate but it is, consciously or not, hiding or revealing our fears as human beings. I think sometimes that it would be much easier to be an animal but hey, did we have a choice in that matter?
Last year I worked for Olympus Medical Device Manufacturing and trained some of their staff, incidentally foreigners,in language skills. Actually I did not teach them anything, I made them come to terms with the fact they speak differently and enabled them to speak in a way so that they can be easily understood. I don’t consider this to be about language, but about our confidence and our ability to adapt, or not, to a different environment. At the end of the day, if we want to learn and improve, we can, and what is interesting is that if you believe that you have a message to offer to the world, you will find a way to express it in whatever language or other communication medium you will find. If you have ever watched deaf people talking to each other, you will know what I mean!
I have noticed through my teaching and coaching that foreigners will drop their voices when they do not know how to pronounce a word properly, which makes it even harder for everyone to understand. I think our unconscious brain activates one of our fear buttons and starts putting us in a situation of self-sabotage. We end up dropping the words we need for effective communication.
I remember taking singing lessons during my first year in England. The teacher noticed that I spoke English at a much higher tone and pitch than my own mother tone, as if I needed unconsciously to strain my throat and maybe to find a way to express myself and thus making it even harder for me to sustain such a long conversation!
I also noticed that for years, when tired, my french accent would come up in force, as if being tired meant I could not be “so English” anymore, and I had to find a way of expressing myself which was alien to me.
What is your experience? Have you noticed how you speak and how you sound and how you might have to adjust depending of what, where and who you are with?. Next time you are in a group, notice your tone of voice and your intonation when reacting to others.
I would be interested in hearing from native and non-native English speakers about their relationships with expressing themselves in one context or another… Have you had a time when you felt so inadequate? When were your times of success? And the times of ridicule?
With thanks Helene