It is a fact that thousands of business people are self-conscious about the way they express themselves, to such an extent that they believe it is holding back their career. I know this from my own experience as a private tutor, because many of my clients have been in exactly that situation. They come to me to ask for my help in improving their writing or speaking skills, or both. They feel they are letting themselves down every time they open their mouths or write a sentence, either because of their accent, or the words they use, or because they are worried about a gap in their education.
Often the clients I see are professionals in senior management positions. They are clearly very capable in their chosen occupation, otherwise they could not have risen so high up the corporate ladder. At some point in their careers they find that personal communication skills have become an issue for them. This then damages their confidence – they actually feel inferior to more confident speakers or writers.
The fact is that effective spoken and written communications are more important now than ever before, and nobody feels confident if they think they lack them. The good news is these are skills that can be taught, and at any age.
A whole generation seems to have gone though the UK education system without being drilled in the essentials of English grammar, spelling and punctuation. If you are one of these people, it doesn’t mean you’re inferior, it just means that nobody showed you how to do it. If you like, it’s the same as riding a bike: if nobody ever showed you how, then you won’t be able to do it – but that doesn’t make you a bad person! A capable tutor can take you through the essentials of good written English and give you the skills that may have passed you by when you were at school.
The same goes for good spoken English. It’s a skill and it can be taught. Once you and your tutor have sorted out whatever it is about your speaking voice that embarrasses you, your confidence will soar.
I know what I’m talking about because I have worked with dozens of business people to improve their personal communication skills. Very often before they contact me they have spent years persuading themselves that there is something wrong with them because, for example, they don’t know how to use a semi-colon, or they have a strong regional accent which (they think) makes them stand out like sore thumb among their public school educated colleagues.
The problem, if it can even be called that, is rarely as bad as they have built it up in their minds to be. After a few sessions they get the hang of what they previously thought were the secrets of good English. Their self-consciousness begins to melt away and they are well on the road to being confident, effective speakers and writers.