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November 2013 Talking Points Newsletter

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“Confidence is contagious. So too is lack of confidence.” --Vince Lombardi

“Self-belief, also called self-efficacy, is the kind of feeling you have when you have, like a Jedi, mastered a particular kind of skill and with its help have been able to achieve your set goals.” --Stephen Richards

Confidence = Competence

Confidence. It's considered one of the most influential motivators and regulators of human behavior. It has the power to propel us forward or, when it's missing, stop us in our tracks. Over the last six months, I've mentored non-native English speakers at a variety of national conferences and, without fail, was asked the following question each and every time, “How can I overcome my lack of confidence?” As one executive at the 2013 National Diversity Women's Business Leadership Conference told me, “I have to take risks in my job. Sometimes I need to go against the grain and propose different ideas or solutions to move things forward. When I'm asked, 'What did you say? Can you repeat that?,' it just knocks the wind right out of my sails.” Sadly, this isn't surprising. Studies conducted by University of Florida professor Timothy Judge showed that people with low self-confidence were less likely to speak up in meetings or to take on challenging tasks.

Ability: True or False

To compound this issue, Dr. Lois Frankel, author of Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office, asserts a lack of confidence can mask a person's positive traits. Frankel finds that “we make assumptions about people who exhibit behaviors of low self-esteem. We may ascribe lower intelligence, even though that's not true.” No excuses, prejudice is intolerable. Not filling talent gaps with the best talent available is bad business.

Just as low self-esteem correlates to less than ideal job performance, research has proven, thankfully, that the opposite is true. Forbes reports that professionals with high self-confidence have increased levels of job satisfaction, better job performance, higher income, higher work motivation and reduced burnout.

Keep the Accent... and Jump Right In

Nothing boosts self-confidence more than learning a new task and performing it well. The sense of accomplishment is priceless. This is true for mastering English pronunciation, as the complexities of American speech patterns can seem more than just a little daunting. For example, there isn't a single letter in the English alphabet that's pronounced just one way. Think of the letter 'o'. Its various pronunciations include: option, office, some, boot, book, order, and go. Accent reduction training provides pronunciation techniques for the sounds in English that do not occur in other languages.

At the end of a typical accent reduction program, speakers will still have an accent. What they won't have is a constant barrage of, “What did you say?” This translates into real world results in the form of more seamless communication. As one former accent reduction participant explained, “I used to dread talking on the phone. I was always trying to find ways to write; if I write then the person can read it. Talking on the phone was so awful, but now I have a telephone conversation and nobody asks me to repeat myself. It's really exciting!”

To learn how corporations have used accent training to boost confidence, increase employee engagement, and fill leadership pipelines with multicultural talent, contact us at:

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