Lingua East

People should hear your ideas, not your accent.

Tag: communication

Rules for Conversation: Taking Turns & Interrupting

In the latest uprising of people fighting for women’s rights, there are calls for equal pay in the workplace, a stop to gender-based harassment, and interestingly, a call for a change in communication behaviors including conversational turn taking.

In a conversation, each speaker has a turn. When there are more than a couple people involved, the ratio of turns to talk becomes less distributed. However, just as in a card game, each person has roughly the same ratio of turns to talk.

There is strong evidence for different degrees of uncivil speech behaviors. This is easily available from academic, journalistic, and anecdotal resources. You probably see it in conversations with the people among you. Maybe you have noticed you are an interrupter.

 

Unless the situation is serious, the consequences dire, don’t interrupt. When you interrupt, despite how great your point may be, it makes you look like a jerk. Your point can wait until it is your turn to speak, and if you listen, your ideas may tie in nicely with the point your conversational partner is making.

If you must interrupt, admit that you’re interrupting (either by apologizing or acknowledging). “Sorry to interrupt, but…” or “I’m going to have to interrupt you…”

Otherwise, wait your turn.

While you wait, listen to what the person is saying, while keeping in mind the comment you wanted to respond to. Here are some phrases that you can use to make a smooth transition between conversation turns:

To refer to something mentioned previously

Going back to what you said about [topic]…

You said [phrase or sentence]…

I want to return to [previous topic]

 When it comes to rules for behavior in conversations (i.e. turn-taking and eye contact), like other rules, you should follow them. Or break them in a way that you can own up to, hopefully with good intentions. The key here is being aware of your behavior in a conversation and its effect on others. In a conversation, it’s not worth it to interrupt. When someone is interrupted, they can become upset, feeling that their voice is not heard. If they’re upset, they’re likely to pay less attention to what the interrupter is saying. If we can all practice a little patience and use the right words to orient our listeners to the points we want to address, we can have successful conversations without upsetting the people we speak with.

Lost in a Crowd

It’s a strange feeling, to be completely lost, surrounded by people and conversation, struggling to keep up and follow along. Participating in the conversation is much more difficult, with an array of unpleasant emotions. If you find yourself in a place where your second language is the primary means of communication, it takes guts to learn the language to a level where you can use it every day. You probably know what it is like to think hard about a great response to something someone said in conversation, only to come out with it too late.

The moment has passed, and your insightful, witty comment isn’t insightful or witty anymore. Sometimes a thin smile spreads across your conversation partners’ faces as they nod slowly at you, pausing a respectful moment before continuing with a conversation that has progressed further than your ears were able to follow. Other times, after adding your comment, the other speakers keep the conversation going, as if you hadn’t spoken at all.

It’s a feeling of powerlessness, to be left standing there, wanting to be a part of the conversation, but grasping to keep up with what others have said and to come up with a response fast enough for it to add meaning to the exchange. Being able to understand and communicate with others evens the playing field. Even if two people don’t see eye to eye on some things, they can get their ideas across and begin to understand the point of view of others whose knowledge and experiences differ from theirs. But it’s not easy.

It takes patience.

It takes practice.


It takes guts to speak up, to chime in, to share your two cents, to let them hear your ideas. And if you really want them to understand your message, it takes some attention to the way you say it.


So take the time to work on understanding the things about the language that are different from the language you grew up speaking. Maybe pronouns were optional, and you have difficulty with he and she. Many people will brush off you talking about your sister as he, but others might get confused.

When you are giving a big presentation at work, trying to convince your superiors of something you know will be great for the company, the difference between in and on may not be relevant to your ideas, but knowing it will help you be more persuasive.

And in those nerve-racking circumstances when it’s late at night, your phone is dead, and you need to ask a stranger for help, being able to explain your situation with clear pronunciation can make a world of difference.

The more you interact with native speakers and work on your ability to produce the language, the easier it will be to understand others in that language. Life is not as much fun when you are lost in a crowd of people you can’t communicate with. At Lingua East, our certified instructor can give you a road map to better communication in English. Join the conversation. Let them hear your ideas.

Uptalk: The Reviled Speech Behavior’s Origins and Purpose

There are many curious features of spoken language. Nobody know where they come from or how they start, but everyone has an opinion on these mannerisms. One of such mannerisms is uptalk.

In the world of linguistics, uptalk is known as high rising terminal. In other words, it means finishing a phrase or sentence by raising the pitch of your voice. Uptalk occurs all over the English speaking world, with notable occurrences in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, England, and especially in Northern Ireland. Like other curious features of spoken language, the origins of uptalk are guessed at, but unknown.

In the United States, people blame “Valley Girls;” in England they blame the Australians for exporting the juicy soap opera Neighbours; and in Cape Town… I’m not sure about that one. However, uptalk appears to be one of those linguistic features that has always been around. Or at least, it’s been around for much longer than people have been talking about it.

Those particularly critical of uptalk label the high rising terminal as sounding like a question. Those people report hearing an individual using uptalk as asking a series of questions. They further state that this series of question-like utterances make the speaker sound indecisive or insecure. However, such is not the case.[1]

Uptalk is quite versatile. Uptalk is a way for the speaker to ensure the listener is paying attention and following what they are saying. Uptalk is also frequently used when listing items, especially when the speaker has to think about the next item on the list. It is a way of holding the floor so the listener will not interrupt before the speaker has finished. Uptalk has a purpose and perhaps like any other speech behavior, it can be overused, but that does not take away its linguistic legitimacy.

Because language isn’t politicized enough (that was sarcasm), many people commenting on uptalk have labeled it as a gender issue plaguing the speech of young women. Others have come to women’s defense, declaring that the “uptalk epidemic” is just part of society’s unfair policing of women’s behavior. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.[2]

The uptalk discussion has received contributions from individuals varying in their qualifications to discuss language, from the BBC reporter who consulted with Mark Liberman (a celebrity, if you follow linguist a-listers) and traced uptalk back to the 9th century, to others, who refer to uptalk as a pathology disturbingly growing in popularity among female speech. The truth is, especially in the English-speaking world, communication is not gender-specific. (You have probably heard children of both genders using uptalk as they told a story, especially in the phrase “and then…”.)

The sorts of linguistic features that women are accused of using more often, such as uptalk, or fry, are things that both genders use. Linguistics studying the incidence (how often something occurs) of uptalk have not found any definitive data pointing to it being more of a feminine or masculine way of communicating. Instead, these negative critiques of uptalk appear to be related to some of the work done by linguist William Labov in the 20th century.

Labov came up with something called the “gender paradox.” According to the gender paradox, when there is an evolution in a specific language form, then women – particularly the younger women who speak that language – are much more likely than men to use that form. If the gender paradox applies to uptalk, then you can expect to hear a lot more uptalk in the future.

All attempts to communicate thoughts and ideas are good. When others are uncomfortable with the way you speak, the problem is not yours, it’s theirs. Some speech coaches ascribe to the view that uptalk is a pathology that should be eradicated from their client’s speech, the sooner the better. Or that it is generally undesirable because it makes the speaker sound indecisive, like they lack confidence. However, uptalk has its uses. At Lingua East, we can help you get rid of your uptalk, if that is what you want. But we will never force you to change who you are. It could be that you are just ahead of the curve.

Whether you choose to use uptalk or not, let them hear your ideas.

[1] That is certainly not how the uptalk I heard yesterday from Shinzo Abe’s interpreter sounded. But maybe you disagree.

[2] I am suggesting here that women may use uptalk as a tool to hold the floor, given the overwhelming incidence of men interrupting women more than they interrupt other men.

7 Communication Tips for ESL Speakers that Work

If you speak English as a second language, then you have run into situations where someone did not understand you. What did you do when that happened? Were you able to adjust your communication style to get your point across successfully, or did you say, “Forget it,” and move on with that disappointing feeling that you had an idea you wanted to share but you couldn’t? I know what it is like to communicate my ideas in a second language, both successfully and unsuccessfully. I know you have great ideas, and I want you to be able to communicate them successfully.

To help you communicate better as an ESL speaker, I have come up with the following tips. Try them out, you may find that some work better for you than others. Leave a comment below about which tips like the most (or least).conversation

  1. Slow down your rate of speech.

Many people speaking English as a second language find that they are better understood when they slow down their rate of speech. You don’t have to speak one…word…at…a…time, in fact, that may make your listener look at you like you have six heads. But, if you can produce the same words over a longer period of time, your listener will understand you better.

I certainly found this to be the case as a small child communicating with an aunt from Peru. When she spoke to me at her normal rate of speech, it was extremely difficult for me to pick out key words in her message. But when I asked her to repeat and she slowed her rate of speech, I understood her perfectly.

  1. Use “clear speech”

“Clear speech” is a technique that involves speaking with exaggerated movements of the tongue, lips, and jaw. You may have to think about what happens in your mouth when you produce certain speech sounds to be able to successfully use clear speech, but with practice, you’ll be able to turn it on and off when you need it. It feels strange to speak using the clear speech technique, but it can help you get your message across.

  1. Lose the fillers

A lot of us use “fillers,” words or sounds like “um” or “ah” when we’re speaking without even thinking about it. Fillers do not add any meaning to what we say, and can be distracting to listeners. When you speak with an accent, you may be using filler sounds from your native language that are especially distracting to listeners. This can make it extra difficult for your listeners to understand your message.

I was recently at a convention with thousands of other speech-language pathologists. I attended a talk by a very intelligent, extremely talented clinician. The talk was packed full of valuable information, but the clinician used the filler “right?” at the end of every other sentence, and sometimes even multiple times within the same sentence. This made it more difficult to keep track of the flow of the presentation, and I suspect the speaker had no idea she was doing it.

  1. Communicate in a quiet area

There is a lot of research about the interaction between accented speech and background noise. In short, if there is a lot of noise in the surrounding area, your listeners will have a harder time understanding you. Turn off the television, move away from the crowd, and stay away from the speakers blasting music. If it is easier to hear you, it will be easier to understand you.quiet-communication

  1. Use transition words

You can use transition words strategically to introduce topic shifts to your listeners. When you use words and phrases like “on the other hand,” “that is different from…,” and “that reminds me of…” These phrases serve to flip a switch in your listener’s brain that prepares them to understand a different set of vocabulary from what they might otherwise expect.

  1. Pause more

Public speakers use pauses to give their message more power. You can use them to the same effect. Use pauses between phrases and to separate your ideas. You can even use this pause time to plan what you are going to say next, or to prepare yourself for a transition or clear speech.

  1. Say it another way

If your listener asks you to repeat what you just said, it can sometimes be helpful to rephrase your message. Your listener may have had difficulty understanding just a couple of the key words in your sentence; if you can use different words to communicate the same meaning, you increase the chances that your listener will understand you. (This is also a great way to show off that impressive vocabulary you’ve worked so hard on!)

bubblesNow that you have read about these tips, get out and practice them. Figure out which ones work for you and which ones you already use. Keep these tips at the ready to communicate with greater success. Let them hear your ideas.

Understanding Multilingualism

Being able to speak more than one language is a wonderful thing. When you are multilingual, you can communicate with many more people than if you learn your native language and end your communication development there. When you are able to communicate with more people, you earn the remarkable opportunity to learn about other cultures, other ways of life, and all sorts of wonderful things. Multilingualism expands your world.explore1

Learning another language helps people to understand one another. We are all on this planet together, and the better we understand one another, the better we can cooperate to make the world a better place for everyone on it. Multilingualism helps people to spread urgent news from one part of the globe to another rapidly, so scientists can collaborate and share their remarkable discoveries with the rest of the world, and governments can come to agreements about difficult situations.

Furthermore, knowing a foreign language allows you to immerse yourself in someone else’s culture, to fully understand and appreciate the customs and traditions, foods, music, and even get a better understanding of how the way people from that culture think. Psycholinguists (most notably Benjamin Whorf and Edward Sapir) have thoroughly discussed the effects of language on thought, and have come to a general consensus that at least some of the aspects of our language shape the way we think.

processingSome people do not understand the unique benefits of knowing more than one language, and they may view foreign accents as a negative thing. While looking down upon foreign accents is certainly not the way the world should work, it is the reality. While we cannot easily change the way in which others view our accents, one thing we can do is to work on our accents to change the way our listeners process our speech.

talkWhen we hear spoken language, our brains work to translate the spoken words into ideas with meaning. Our brains can usually recognize whole words, sometimes entire phrases, and translate those into their respective meanings. When the speaker has a noticeable accent, however, that recognition process is slowed down. The listener’s brain may have to break down the words further into the separate sounds of speech before putting them back together and translating that cobbled-together series of speech sounds into words with meaning.

This process of understanding accented speech takes a little bit longer than the process of understanding speech produced without an accent. Researchers[1] have found this to be true. Furthermore, this effect of hearing and understanding accented speech varies depending on the word choice, and perhaps even the topic of conversation. More predictable words will be processed faster than words that are unpredictable. Whether a word is predictable or not depends on context; that is, the other words that are in the sentence or phrase. Researchers have found that when words contain inaccurately produced speech sounds, listeners are better able to identify these errors in words that are highly predictable (for example, in the phrase “shag garpet”) than in words that are much less predictable (“rag garpet”)[2]. Although this processing delay is only in the order of milliseconds, it can have a big effect on communication.

Luckily, there are some things that we can do as speakers to make things easier for our listeners. These tips are similar to the tips I shared in my post about communicating with people who are hard of hearing. If you want to learn tricks for getting your message across with an accent, click here.

Multilingualism[1] Munro, M. & Derwing, T. (1995). Processing time, accent, and comprehensibility in the perception of native and foreign-accented speech. Language and Speech, 38, 289–306.

[2] Cole, R. A., & Jakimik, J. (1978). Understanding speech: How words are heard. In G. Underwood (Ed.), Strategies of information processing. New York: Academic Press.

The Hidden Meaning of Small Talk

Different cultures treat workplace communication differently. Many people working in the United States for the first time may be shocked at the casual nature of conversations between colleagues and their superiors. In the United States personalities really come out (ever heard the phrase let your freak flag fly?), and while a subservient attitude toward the boss in all situations may be a norm in a native country, that is simply not the case here.

Small talk is a crucial aspect of communication. The brief conversation you have every morning with your colleagues in the hall as you make your way to your desk may not seem to matter much, but it does. If you learn the hidden meaning of small talk in US corporate culture, you can use it to your benefit.

Pro tip #1: Remember personal details that your coworkers mention in small talk (such as names of family members, pets, hobbies), and ask about them later.

Small talk is a good way to form a personal connection with each of your colleagues, no matter what level they may inhabit in your organization. This personal connection will affect how they interact with you on more professional matters, and will impact their attitude toward working with you. That is why it is important to make a good impression – and to maintain that good impression – through small talk.

Pro tip #2: Show others you are interested in what they have to say. You can do this by making a comment on what they have said and encouraging them to keep talking such as, “I didn’t know that, can you tell me more?”

Another function of small talk is to set the stage for future interactions. For example, as members of your team and a few other departments are arriving in the conference room a few minutes before a Monday meeting, the group may engage in light conversation about what they did over the weekend. This conversation, while seemingly unrelated to the meeting that is about to occur, sets the mood. This conversation helps everyone there to relax and to open up so that when the meeting does begin and the conversation turns to more important matters, everyone there will feel good about participating, and will be more willing to share their ideas in an open discussion.

Pro tip #3: During small talk, stay calm. To maintain an overall positive attitude in the group, do not interrupt others, even if you really want to. Let them finish what they are saying before jumping in. (This is a good rule of thumb for any interaction.)

It is not uncommon for small talk with the boss to be on a more personal level. In other countries, it might be unthinkable to discuss relationships outside of work, activities done in your free time, and current events, but in the United States, these topics are fair game. It is certainly not recommended to be open about everything; every company is different.

Pro tip #4: Observe others in your company engaging in small talk and use their conversations to guide you.

small talkThe best way to figure out what is appropriate is to listen carefully to topics that others bring up in conversation and use those topics as a gauge. Of course, you should only share information that you are comfortable with sharing. The main point is to engage in casual small talk with as many members of your organization as possible, so that you can forge those personal relationships that will help you to excel in your position.

Pro tip #5: Make an effort to engage in pleasant small talk with everyone in your organization. This will help to set you apart as someone everyone wants to work with.

Small talk can open doors to greater opportunities. It is never a waste of time to engage in small talk with a person, especially if you do not know that person very well. By having a casual conversation with someone, you can, little by little, learn more about him or her. A casual conversation can also help that person to learn more about you. The more they learn about you the more likely they may be to volunteer to help you with that project you’re trying to get off the ground, or to introduce you to a higher-up in the organization you’ve been hoping to speak with.

Small talk is a skill that you can learn, like a yo-yo trick, or playing the banjo. One of the best ways to learn and improve your small talk skills is to watch others and pay attention. Listen carefully to the topics they discuss and their word choices. Look at their body language, hand gestures, and facial expressions, and listen to the tone of voice used.

Pro tip #6: Practice small talk. Practice it everywhere and with everyone you encounter. Practice with strangers (unlike in other places, talking to strangers is a completely acceptable thing to do in the United States). Practice with the grocery clerk, the librarian, and that lady at the café who remembers how you like your coffee. The more you practice, the closer you will be to mastering small talk.

FontCandy (50)Everyone does small talk a little differently. Using your observations of many different people, develop your own small talk style. The comments you make, the way you raise your eyebrows, what you do with your hands, and the tone of your voice when you say, “Wow!” all come together to make an impact on your listener. Your small talk style is unique to you.

The best way to really learn something is to seek out someone who can help you. A speech coach can help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses in the area of small talk, and can help you practice and perfect your small talk. At Lingua East, we want to help you succeed, and we’d love to help you develop your own small talk style. Contact us to master those small conversations that can lead to something bigger.

10 Tips for Communicating with Customers with Disabilities

“Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time or we’ll lose them.”

-Kevin Stirtz, Strategy Manager at Thomson Reuters

 

 

 

If you work with the public, you want to give your customers the best experience possible. Whether you have ten employees or ten thousand, your business depends on it. If you’ve been around a while, you’ve probably gotten really good at communicating with the typical customer.

 

But what about the customer who’s a little different? There is a whole world of communication impairments, and millions of people have them. Communicating with these customers may present a bit of a challenge. You may have to approach the interaction differently. However, if you’re prepared for anything, you’ll be able to turn those prospective customers into repeat customers who refer all their friends to you because you give them great service, every time.

Following are some tips to guide you as you strive to give all your customers a great experience:

  1. Respect. Do not laugh at, mock, or interrupt your customer. This is a no-brainer. You wouldn’t do this with your other customers, anyway.
  2. Do not finish your customer’s sentences. It may be tempting, especially if your customer seems to be having a really tough time getting the words out. Even if you know what they’re going to say, let them say it.
  3. Give your customer enough time to respond. Some people take a little longer to process information. Be sure you are giving your customers enough time to react to your questions or comments before repeating yourself or adding to the conversation.
  4. If you do not understand what the customer says, tell them. It will save a boatload of trouble from you guessing at what they want.
  5. Let them see your face. For some hard of hearing customers, it may be easier to have a conversation if you are facing them in good lighting.
  6. If your customer is having difficulty understanding you, use shorter sentences with simpler vocabulary. Sometimes you can communicate the same idea in three short sentences instead of one long sentence.
  7. Think about your surroundings. For customers with a head injury in their past, it can be difficult to concentrate on what someone is saying if there is a lot of movement and noise in the background.
  8. If you are in the position to do so, you might want to show your customer what you’re saying by neatly writing it down or having key points of your message typed out. This can be helpful to those customers for whom memory is not their strong suit.
  9. Use gesture and facial expression wisely. Think about what your hands are doing. Make sure that every gesture you make is meaningful and that you are not just flapping your hands around. Think about what your face is doing. Try to keep your facial expression appropriately neutral or friendly. Inappropriate gestures can distract from your message.
  10. Be patient. If a prospective customer feels like you’re in a hurry, they may be more likely to turn around and go straight to your competitor. Take a relaxed position and communicate your willingness to help the customer with everything they need, and your customer will be more likely to stick with you.

The key to successful communication with customers with disabilities is the same as with any other customer: put them first. Give your customers a great experience every time and they’ll come back, again and again.

If you have any questions about how your organization can improve your communication with individuals with disabilities, let us know. Contact us and we can provide you with more information, tips, and strategies in an individual consultation or group seminar.

11 Tips for Talking with Teachers

A reader asked for a post of the tips from the Communicating with Teachers in English handout. So, without further ado, here it is!

For a child to get a good education, parents need to have good communication with teachers. Be a good role model for your children – talking with the teacher is the key to your child’s success.

Here are 11 tips for communicating with your child’s school:

  • Communicate with your child’s teacher early in the fall, and throughout the school year. It is easy to write an email, make a phone call, or show up in person, and it will show the teacher that you care about your child’s education. Teachers like to get to know parents.
  • Let the teacher know the best way to contact you. Make sure they have your phone number and know what part of the day you can take phone calls.
  • Find out when parent-teacher conferences will be scheduled so can put it on your calendar well in advance.
  • Arrive on time for meetings. If you are going to be late, call the school to let them know.
  • If you know what you want to say, but are not sure how to say it in English, ask for an interpreter.
  • Minimize noise when you talk with the teacher. It will be easiest for others to understand you in a quiet environment.
  • If you don’t understand what the teacher is telling you, tell them and politely ask for clarification. “I don’t understand. Could you explain that please?”
  • If the teacher does not understand you, or they don’t seem to be following what you’re saying, try to say it another way. Add information, use different words.
  • Ask questions. Ask about how your child approaches tasks at school. Ask about what you can do at home to support your child’s learning. Ask any question that comes to mind. Questions can start conversations that inform teachers about how best to teach your child. When you ask questions it shows the teacher that you are interested in your child’s education.
  • If your child has experienced any big events outside of school (like moving to a new home or the birth of a sibling) share that information with the teacher. Big life events can affect how kids behave at school, so providing context will help the school to teach your child.
  • Volunteer to help out in the classroom for an hour or two. Volunteering is a great way to see what happens in the classroom.

When you get to know your child’s teachers, you are teaching your child about the importance of education. Feel free to share your ideas and to work with the school to make it the best education possible.

If you’re still having trouble communicating with your children’s teachers in English, let us know. We just might be able to help.

Communicating with Teachers in English

I was talking recently with a speech-language pathologist who works in the schools. She shared with me the difficulties the parents of her students often have in communicating with the schools in English.

As many immigrants will tell you, it is not always easy to live and work in a place that does not share the language and culture of the place you grew up. Schools in the United States are quite different from schools on the other side of the world.

To help parents communicate better with the schools, we have created a handout with tips for communicating with teachers. We currently offer this handout free of charge in English, Spanish, Hindi, and Vietnamese. Check them out!

 

Communicating with Teachers_English

Communicating with Teachers_Spanish

Communicating with Teachers_Hindi

Communicating with Teachers_Vietnamese

skeleton school

Let us know if you would like this handout translated to another language and we’ll make it happen. Contact us!

8 Confidence-Boosting Tricks for Better Communication

Communication difficulties are at the core of many of the problems we face in our day-to-day lives. How many times have you stumbled through an important conversation, knowing exactly what you wanted to say but feeling like you were failing to get your point across? Communication problems affect everyone from time to time, some more than others. If you often find yourself feeling embarrassed or ashamed of how you talk, or if you have trouble getting your ideas out with the right meaning, that can affect your confidence. This problem can prevent you from sharing your great ideas with the people who need to hear them.

Confidence on Hand

Here are some steps you can take to speak with greater confidence so you can wow others with your ideas:

  1. Write down what you want to say. If your message is complex, try to organize your ideas into their simplest forms with transitions that flow from one idea to the next. Index cards are great for this, because you can put one idea on each card, lay them all out, and move them around until the order makes sense. Add your transitions in between the ideas when you have the order just how you want it. Another bonus to using index cards is that they fit in most pockets in case you need to refresh your memory in the parking lot or the elevator.
  2. Put a key message on a stone or small piece of paper and keep it in your pocket. While you’re speaking, slip your hand into your pocket. Sometimes just feeling that stone or paper can trigger you to remember what you wanted to say. At the same time, it can help you remain calm and relaxed.
  3. Practice what you want to say. Practice anywhere and everywhere: in the mirror, in your car, with your cat, with a friend. The more you practice what you want to say, the more automatic it will become. Then, you can put your energy into…
  4. Body language – use it to add meaning to your message. Think about what you might want your hands to be doing. If your arms are crossed in front of your chest, you’re sending a negative message that tells others that you’re closed off to their ideas and input. Standing with your hands on your hips is a position that emanates power. Use a mirror or ask a friend to find out what kind of a message your body language is sending and work to figure out the right position for your message. On a similar note…
  5. Stand in a powerful position for a few minutes before you have the conversation. Research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology last year showed that when people stood in a “power pose” before a job interview, they did better in the interview than people who had a more withdrawn position before the interaction.
  6. Do something before the conversation that relaxes you. Take a walk outside, draw a picture, or simply stop to smell the roses. If you’re calm going in, you’re more likely to be calm going out.
  7. Take care of your body. You have better control of your mind when you get enough sleep, eat good quality food, and drink plenty of water.
  8. If you’re concerned about your accent, try practicing what you want to say, with stress on the appropriate words. If that’s difficult for you to do on your own, or if you still have concerns, seek help from a speech pathologist or ESL teacher. People should hear your ideas, not your accent.

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