29/03/2020 by Delia Jones 0 Comments
How to be yourself in English - 3 fundamental steps
Many of my clients express a feeling of deep dissatisfaction due to the fact that when they speak in English, they feel that they are a lesser version of themselves. Used to relying on easy access to as many words as they need in their own language, they feel vulnerable and afraid that they will give the wrong impression when they speak in English.
This is a wonderful opportunity for them to seriously consider who they want to be in English and this in turn deepens their communicative
experience in their own language. Making explicit how they want to show up to the world when interacting with others, their fundamental values
are confirmed and a feeling of integrity and congruence in communication can come about. Speaking another language is venturing into a new
territory and it is natural that there is resistance to this change. However, anchoring oneself in the core values that guide our communication gives us a feeling of greater stability.
Step 1. Know who you are in your own language
What do I want people to see in me when I commuicate with them? What values are fundamental to my sense of purpose and identity? For example, one of my English coachees has spent several sessions with me describing the quality of what for him is "relaxed English", embodying inner peace, generosity and courage. By putting words to these important values and describing how they show up in different situations when he speaks with people, he has found a great sense of satisfaction in speaking English and an awareness of how it contributes to his life calling.
For another of my clients, the value of transmission is extremely important. Ths means that she has a mission to transfer her knowledge and experience for future generations. I am working with her on identifying the key message of her teaching so that she can fully embody this passion when she is addressing her students or faculty in English. Her connection with what is meaningful allows her to bring real emotion to her English and to feel that she is being herself, even if she does so with less words. Another coachee emphasised the experience of learning from others and we dived deep into what learning meant for her and how she learns and is changed in some way by her communication with others.
Step 2. Know what you want to embody in English
When you speak in English with a friend, a colleague, a client or an audience in a public speech or presentation, your values will show up
differently. Taking time to reflect on how in this situation you can be true to yourself, will help you align with that when you are speaking in
English, even if you don't have a huge vocabulary or perfect grammar. For example, how fast should I speak? How much should I speak and how
much should I listen? How will my interlocutor feel my sincerity and my confidence? How can I express what is important for me and avoid
misunderstanding? What am I most afraid of in this situation? What can I do to prepare? What conditions will support me in this situation? These
are the questions that an English coach may use to help you anchor yourself in your fundamental values when you speak English. It then becomes meaningful to identify the language and vocabulary elements that will allow you to do this.
Step 3. Practise living this directly with your English coach
The last fundamental step is to have the living experience of being the person you want to be, live with your English coach. This is possible thanks to the safe space created by the English coach. I will treat the nature of this space and how the English coach creates it in another article.
With the client mentioned above, for example, we explore what he notices when he is speaking "relaxed English". What is the feeling in his body and what is its quality? How does it affect his breathing, his emotions and his posture?
One student wanted to participate in a company teleconference, despite his fear of his English not being good enough. His personal mission was to be true to himself. When he spoke from that place of purposeful determination, his English had conviction and came across as confident as it was aligned with his value of being true to himself. He was able to speak up in the meeting about what was important for him, instead of letting the occasion pass him by.
These fundamental steps, in my experience, are the keys to being oneself in English. After all, we want to be seen and acknowledged by others for who we are when we communicate and our language is just the vehicle, not the end in itself.