2 Mindset Shifts That Will Boost Your Confidence as a Business Communicator in English.
And just like that, another year is drawing to a close. What am I saying? A whole decade is coming to an end. Can you believe that?
Let’s stick to this year. How’s it been? Frantic? On that never-ending treadmill?
Done everything you wanted to accomplish with respect to your Business English?
Let me imagine your answer.
- You really wanted to sign up to that Business English course but 8 or 12 weeks were just too much of a time commitment.
- So you decided to go online and invest in an online programme. But again, life got in the way and you didn’t complete it. Actually, truth be told, you didn’t even start it.
- The third option was subscribing to YouTube channels, umpteen language blogs and podcasts.
You did this in the hope of getting some quick vocabulary and grammar tips. It’s much easier to give things a quick skim. You tell yourself it’s better than nothing.
Fast forward 12 months. How much has changed? My guess is not much.
- You’re still stumbling over your words,
- You’re still making grammar mistakes,
- You’re still having to repeat yourself because your international colleagues can’t seem to understand you.
- You’re still nervous when you walk into that business meeting.
- You’ve not become more confident.
At least you tried. But come the new year, everything’s going to change.
- You will definitely sign up to that 8-week course or online programme AND complete it.
- You’ll do all your ‘homework’ – grammar exercises, vocabulary worksheets.
- You’ll listen to the podcasts on your way to work.
No, you won’t.
Is your life going to be any less busy next year? It’s only going to get busier.
You’ll get that promotion, that sought-after project will finally be agreed, you’ll have more business trips…fill in the blanks.
And suddenly, your time will no longer be yours. Again.
“It’s all hopeless. At this rate, I’ll never become a fluent speaker of English”
Not if you make 2 serious tactical changes.
In this post, I want to share how by making 2 significant mindset shifts, you’ll finally see the results you’ve been looking for to become a confident business communicator in English.
Mindset Shift #1: Focus on communicating, NOT on speaking
Ditch those vocabulary sheets and grammar exercises. Let’s face it. After a long day’s work, they’re the last thing you’ll look at.
And this obsession with more vocabulary and more grammar is utterly pointless. They’re not going to help you communicate better. In fact, more equals overwhelm and you so don’t need more of it in your life.
What will help you is to pause and reflect.
The first thing I do when I work with my clients is to make them pause, dig deep and reflect on what’s happening when they’re in their meetings, presentations or conference calls.
I ask them to reflect on what’s happening when they communicate with their colleagues/clients; what’s the real reason for the misunderstanding; is it because of their English or because of a breakdown in communication?
Maybe they’re not speaking their audience’s language (less technical, less sophisticated). Maybe their audience is not listening because they’re distracted. Maybe they haven’t structured their thoughts clearly. Maybe they haven’t asked enough checking questions.
Communication is much more than speaking. It’s:
Listening to understand; observing; adapting to your audience’s knowledge of the subject; asking questions; checking for understanding; speaking your audience’s language NOT your ideal version of English; having a structure to aid clarity.
Once they’ve reflected and uncovered their answers, they are much clearer on what changes they need to make to become more confident communicators in English.
And do you know what their most surprising discovery is? That their English is NOT the barrier to their communication with their peers.
This has happened to every one of my clients. Every. Single. Time.
Before you know if it’s your ‘lack’ of English or your communication skills that needs fixing, you have to pause and reflect. Reflect on where you are now to then know which changes you need to make to communicate better with the English you have.
You need to go through the process of observation + reflection + adaptation + application.
The best part?
This process doesn’t have to take long. Your objective is not to do more. It’s to do less by being more strategic and focused.
Nothing will happen if you don’t have a strategy.
Mindset Shift #2: Be Strategic
The beauty of this process of reflection is you don’t have to block out 2 hours a week for 12 weeks. It doesn’t have to take much time out of your schedule, so long as you have a strategy on how to implement it.
I’d like to share with you how I do it in 2 of my coaching programmes.
12-Day Reflection Habit Programme.
With this programme, I ask my clients to go through the process of observation + reflection + adaptation + application in 12 days and while they’re working.
They pick 2 business situations (meeting, conference call, presentation) they’re having an issue with and work through them using the process.
The advantage of doing it this way is that they’re not factoring ‘extra’ time in their schedule. They’re doing it at ‘their desk’ + they’re applying what they’re learning to real events. They’re observing meetings that are already scheduled in their week.
But you still need to devise and implement a plan before you start the programme so that you stand a chance of completing it. This goes for any programme you invest in.
How many times have you signed up to a programme and not completed it? The reason? Something unforeseen happened. You got super busy. When the time came to do the programme, you had too much on.
Here’s what I recommend you do when you sign up for a programme (not just mine)
Block the time out in your calendar when you book.
A few days before the programme starts, devise a rough plan on how you’re going to do the work. Treat it like a project.
Be prepared to give something up during those XXX days to make time for your programme. You can’t do everything and remember, it’s only for XXX days.
Have a Plan B for those unforeseen circumstances, sudden business trips, extra meetings, unexpected deadline. If you plan ahead with a Plan B, you’ll find it much easier to adapt.
Don’t overthink. Don’t inflate the time you’ll need to do the work. You can achieve so much in just 20 minutes if you stay focused.
Don’t tell yourself you need the perfect conditions to do the work, in other words, find excuses – right lighting, favourite journal, your special pen and so on.
90-Minute 1-1 Intensive Coaching Session
If XXX days are still too big a commitment, a 90-minute coaching session can give you all the focus and clarity you need because you’re zooming in on one issue. Not on how many words you can learn in 90 minutes.
A coaching session where you have the right prompts to guide you and a coach to follow you whilst you do the deep work will reap huge rewards in the shortest of times.
You’re probably used to a coaching session that’s focused on ‘fluency’. You speak and the teacher corrects you. At the end of the session, you go back to work having compartmentalised this session. Completely pointless in helping you with that next meeting.
Ok, a coaching session where, for the most part, you work in silence will seem totally weird. But if you’re to do this reflection work, you need to do it in silence. You need to tune out the noise.
More importantly, you need to have a deadline by which to do this deep work. If I don’t set a deadline by which to write this blog post, I could go on forever. Procrastinating and editing. The same goes for you. By having a coach that holds you accountable to the ‘clock’, you have no choice but to concentrate and DO THE WORK within the time limit. No excuses.
And that’s precisely what a time-starved professional like you needs. An effective and time-efficient way to reflect and develop self-awareness of how you communicate in English at work.
2020 could be the year you discover just how skilled you are.
The year you:
➣ Ditch that idealised version of your English-speaking self.
➣ Accept that you have more than enough English to communicate effectively at work.
➣ Focus, instead, on how you communicate with others and how they communicate with you.
➣ Reflect on what happens when you communicate and why and identify the small tweaks you need to make and implement.
➣ Make the most efficient use of your time by focusing on what’s important and dropping the rest.
➣ Make a plan (and Plan B) to help you make the whole process stress-free.
➣ Celebrate the process, not just the outcome.
➣ Finally gain the confidence you’ve always craved.
You can do this. Believe in yourself and go make it happen.