Accent Reduction: 10 Myths and their Freeing Truths (Myths 5-6)
In 10 Myths and Truths about Accent Reduction: Part 2 (Myths 3-4), we covered myths and truths #3 and #4 of Accent Reduction. They were:
Review of Myths #3 & #4
“The American accent is too complex to learn. I’ll never be able to change my native language habits.”
Truth: Diligently working with your trainer, completing homework between sessions, and using your new behaviors in your regular day to day speech, you’ll definitely see progress.
“I don’t have time for changing my accent.”
Truth #1: Often times “I don’t have time” is code for “I’m not sure the payoff will be worth it.” When you know you want to change something in yourself or your daily life for the better, you are motivated. When the same topic resurfaces for you to change, it is a signal that the benefits of acting on it will be well worth your time and effort. You are inspired to take the time in your schedule to make it happen nt
Truth #2: Busy people have actually been given a gift in time constraints. Sometimes “I don’t have time” is code for “I’m procrastinating.” Prioritizing your schedule to fit in the time necessary to meet your goals is easier when you have other obligations. The bigger obligations force you to avoid procrastinating and get done what’s needs to be done. It gives you no other choice.
Myths #5 and #6
Myths #5 and #6 have to do with the awareness of the behaviors of communication partners.
“Unless people say they have trouble understanding me, they understand me just fine.”
Truth: Communication partners feel uncomfortable directly voicing that they have difficulty understanding someone. Here are some signs that your communication partners may be having trouble understanding you:
- Leaning forward as if they can’t hear you
- Asking you to repeat what you’ve said
- Furrowing their eyebrows as if confused
- Slowed responses to your questions or comments
- Shaking their head to indicate they didn’t understand
- Adding little to the conversation
- Nodding their heads as if in agreement or as if they understand yet offering no further comments or questions
To increase your awareness of whether others are truly understanding you, take notice of the behaviors of your communication partners. You may want to “check in” with them and ask if they are understanding you.
“If people I work with people who understand me, I don’t need to be understood on social situations.”
Truth #1: The people you work with may be used to hearing you speak with the speech patterns that are influenced by your native language.
Truth #2: On the other hand, unless you are aware of the signs above that indicate communication barriers, you may be in a situation where your co-workers do not understand you yet don’t express that.
Truth #3: Regarding social situations, people you encounter in social situations may also be used to your speech patterns that are influenced by your native language. However, it also may be true that they aren’t comfortable saying anything about their difficulty understanding you. Furthermore, new people that you meet are not going to be used to your speech patterns.
Most people will not directly tell someone that they have difficulty understanding them. They feel awkward and they don’t want to offend the person with the accent. This happens in both work settings and social situations. Rather than assuming your communication partners will speak up and tell you the are experiencing a barrier, take the lead. Start watching for signs of communication breakdown. Let them know that you are aware that your native speech patterns are different than American speech. Tell them you realize this might interfere with your ability to clearly communicate and that you want them to let you know if they don’t understand. This will open the door for them to feel more at ease communicating with you. You’ll equip yourself with feedback from your communication partners that will also build the authenticity in your relationships.
To your relationship-building,