5 ways to take control of your fear of English grammar without a grammar book.
“I fear my native-speaking clients will judge me because of my grammar mistakes.”
Whilst you are nervous when you present to an audience of international speakers of English, it’s nothing compared to your terror of presenting to native speakers of English.
The fear that, if you stumble over that grammar tense or use the wrong preposition, they might quietly laugh at you and overlook your expertise.
Your natural instinct is to dust down your English Grammar in Use book or sign up for a 20-week grammar course.
5 things I want you to consider first
#1: Don’t assume the native speaker has a perfect grasp of English grammar. Give me 10 minutes and I’ll show you some appalling examples.
The difference is that it doesn’t worry them. You probably don’t worry about the grammar mistakes you make in your first language.
Grammar is the last thing you worry about unless you’re writing an important document and even then, there’s the app, Grammarly to review spelling and grammar.
Treat your English grammar mistakes in the same way.
Sure, you might make more mistakes but what I sometimes do is invite people to correct my mistakes (not whilst I am talking!) or ask them directly if I have a doubt.
“Oh, I’ve just had a mental block. Is it y or x?”
When they correct you, thank them.
You’ve taken control of that moment.
#2: Perfect or accurate grammar doesn’t equal clear communication.
You can have perfect grammar and still make no sense because communication is a skill whilst grammar is a tool. For example, you might have a priceless Lamborghini but if you don’t know how to drive it, it’s an expensive and useless tool.
As we work together on using their existing grammar to hone their communication skills, my clients feel liberated.
#3: You are an expert in your field with years of experience and you have incredible value to offer.
You have been promoted for a reason. You’re good at your job, not at your English grammar.
You’ve been called for an interview. That’s because you impressed them with your CV, not your English.
Focus on communicating your expertise and your value because they are what matters.
No one will remember the wrong tense, but they will remember how you saved them money, completed a project in record time, led your team to record sales for the year and secured a lucrative client.
#4: English is probably your 2nd, 3rd or 4th language.
That is 3x more than your average native speaker. Be proud of your talent in learning languages.
Being multilingual demonstrates mental agility. Don’t underestimate how much brain power it takes to switch from one language to another.
And you do it seamlessly even if it doesn’t seem so at times.
#5: Use your paralanguage (non-verbal language)
Words and grammar are not the only tools you have to demonstrate confidence and quiet authority and make an impact.
You have your paralanguage – your voice and body.
Don’t dismiss the power of your voice and your presence. Use them strategically and you will overcome your anxiety about your grammar mistakes.
It’s natural to think that the one thing that’s causing you the most stress is also your greatest weakness. In your case, it’s your conviction that your ‘bad’ grammar is stopping you from doing your job as well as you want to.
The natural reaction is to seek a traditional English Language solution because you believe that once you’ve mastered English grammar, your worries will disappear.
Having worked with over 100 clients, they’ve discovered that mastering English grammar is the ‘easy’ part.
The hard part is overcoming your fear of grammar and lack of self-belief to apply it to your work.
Fear leads to anxiety and anxiety blocks you.
Instead of grammar lessons, you need to address the anxiety behind the fear.
Overcome that and your confidence will return.
Your Next Step
If you want to finally overcome your anxiety when performing English at work, book an exploratory call with me now.