Succeed in America

Overcome Cultural and Linguistic Barriers. Improve Effectiveness

nara@SucceedinAmerica.com 



(To) bark up the wrong tree = to be mistaken; to look for something in the wrong place; to make the wrong choice; to follow wrong course or solution.<!–mep-nl–>Examples: <!–mep-nl–>— My boss always barks up the wrong tree when there is a problem. He always gets mad at the wrong person.<!–mep-nl–>— If you’re looking for a new job, you’re barking up the wrong tree. This company isn’t hiring right now.<!–mep-nl–>

Ask questions. An easy way to speak up is to ask questions or to ask others to elaborate on a point they made. Example: “Excuse me, do you mean…..?” or, “I don’t understand, could you explain it in another way?” Politely asking questions lets you can get into the discussion. However, don’t overdo it — don’t ask too many questions.

Whether we like it or not, we are judged by our voices.If you want to come across positively , you should pay special attention to your voice.When you express yourself at a meeting or make a presentation to a group of people it  is important to have an authoritative and appealing voice. Our voice, its quality and how we create sound when we  speak has a great impact on our ability to influence people, sound credible person and persuade others.

However, if you have these bad voice habits along with a thick accent in addition, you probably often hear “say it again please”, “can you repeat that?” How to fix this? Follow these tips on using your voice effectively.

1. First of all make sure you open your mouth enough when you speak. To do this make sure you do not clench your teeth and also drop your jaw slightly. Imagine that you are chewing a big piece of gum. This will ensure that sound travels freely in the mouth cavity and leave your mouth with a better resonance.

2. Make sure that when you speak that you have at least 2.5 centimeters (one inch) of space between your upper and lower teeth. This will help you to enunciate better, make lips more animated and your voice will sound clear.

3.Before a meeting or presentation, make yourself yawn. This will relax and stretch vocal and throat areas. Do it over and over gain until you feel that your face and mouth muscles are relaxed enough.

3. Drink lots of water. You need enough water in your bloodstream for your vocal cords to be properly hydrated.  We need about 1.5 liter of day.

4. It is very important to evaluate yourself! The best way to do that is to record yourself and play it back. Do it over and over again until you are satisfied with results.

5. Join a Toastmasters Club in your area.  Toastmasters  International is an educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills. It is a perfect place to practice your voice and to get a constructive feedback from other members.

6. To take a step further in improving your voice, download the free Your Speaking Voice manual from the Toastmasters online store.

Remember, your speaking voice is a big part of your image.  Don’t neglect it. Improve and perfect it!



P1030591.PNGPhone technology is not perfect. When transmitted over the phone, our speech becomes less intelligible. Often, some letters and intended sounds may sound exactly like other letters and sounds when pronounced over the phone. For instance, often, it is difficult to distinguish “f” from “s”, or A (letter A) from numeral 8 (eight), sound  sound m. (This is an excerpt from How to Talk on the Phone (Business English ESL). 

To clarify, Americans spell over the phone all the time especially when it comes to names and email addresses. As a matter of fact, Americans provide and request correct spelling more often than other nations do. 

When you need to spell something out over the phone, give words or names that are very common for each letter. For instance,” Is it digit 8 or A as in apple? ” Here is another example, 

“My address is 55 Mill Plain Road, Suite 31-F.”  “Is it S as in Samuel?” “No, F as in Frank……”  

If you are unsure of spelling or do not understand the other party, say: 

-Excuse me, how do I spell that?

-Would you spell that for me?

-I am sorry, would you say that again.

More examples.

– My first name is Nara. N as in New York,  A as in ArgentinaR as in RioA as in Amsterdam.

– My name is Nina Shved. How do you spell your last name, please?

– My name is Nina Shved. How do you spell your last name, please? That’s  S  as in San-Franciscoh as in Havana,  as V as in Venice E as in Europe, D as in Denmark. That’s Shved.

 Remember to give words or names that are very common for each letter. I find using widely known geographical names is helpful when spelling words over the phone.

To be able to spell over the phone you need to know the names of the English alphabet.  The following table contains the names of the  letters and suggested words to identify them over the phone:

The Names of the Letters of the American Alphabet

 

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tn[2] (2)**Dr. Nara Venditti is the owner of Succeed In America specializing in business communication skills for foreign-born professionals and cross-cultural communication in the workplace. She is passionate about cross-cultural understanding and helping non-native speakers of English succeed in the American workplace. She
 speaks  and writes on Business English and communication across languages and cultural divides. She is  the author of numerous articles and books on the topics available on SucceedinAmerica  and  on  Amazon

 

 

 

As Carrie Underwood once said, “My cell phone is my best friend. It’s my lifeline to the outside world.” I would add that it is becoming more and more common to make business-related phone calls over a cell phone. However, due to connection s

P1030591

pecifics, it may be challenging to sound professional especially if English is not your native language. For this reason, I am providing some samples that you can use in various situations.

Want to watch a YouTube clip on this topic first? Click here.

In this short article, I am going to list some useful and important cell phone phrases.

 I didn’t catch what you just said 

A fading or weak signal

  • I’m sorry, I’m losing you. Please call back, or can I call you back?  
  •  I can hardly hear you. Please let me call you or call my land line number.
  • You are breaking up. Let me call you back.
  • I am having trouble hearing you. Could you call me back?
  • Sorry – I didn’t catch what you just said.
  • I’m afraid the line is pretty bad. I am afraid that the signal is quite weak now.

A lost call

  • Hi, it’s Gloria again. Sorry I lost you. It appears that we got cut off.
  • Hi, it’s Gloria again. My cell phone dropped the signal.
  • I am driving. We are getting into a no connection zone and I will lose you shortly. Can I call you back in a few minutes?

From: How to Talk on the Phone  — Business English ESL (Phone Etiquette for both ESL and Native Speakers of English in  the Business Environment), Succeed in America Books, 2016. The complete guide can be found on Amazon.

Want to watch  video  on the topic?   Click here.

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When It Is OK and Not OK To Use OK
3 Vital Tips for Building Confidence in Business Meetings 

tn[2] (2)**Dr. Nara Venditti is the owner of Succeed In America specializing in business communication skills for foreign-born professionals and cross-cultural communication in the workplace. She is passionate about helping non-native speakers of English succeed in the American workplace. She
 speaks  and writes on Business English and communication across languages and cultural divides. She is  the author of numerous articles and books on the topics available on SucceedinAmerica  and  on  Amazon amazon-underground-app-us-black.    




 

MeetingShould you improve your effectiveness in meetings? Good idea — how we handle ourselves in meetings is crucial for our careers, personal branding, and professional success. However, shining in meetings  can be very challenging. It can be challenging for anyone but more so when English is not your native language. The good news —  it can certainly be fixed. Read on.

If you do not verbalize your opinions and ideas, others will think that you don’t have any! 

 

To get started,  I want to give you three essential tips that will help you to come across confidently and credibly during work meetings, and thus make more of an impact.

 1. Learn English phrases for different situations, for instance

  • Interrupting politely (such as  May I have a word?)
  • Commenting (I never thought about it that way before)
  • Politely disagreeing (I understand where you’re  coming from, but…), 
  • more — 

     I will provide more examples in the upcoming episodes. This will also  help  you a lot in overcoming extra challenges related to language fluency. 

 2. Speak up and voice an opinion. Don’t be afraid to contribute. If you do not verbalize your opinions and ideas, others will think that you don’t have any; and if you speak up you will come across as a credible and competent person. 

 3. Prepare beforehand.  Keep in mind that “fail to prepare — prepare to fail.”  Being prepared will make you more confident and will help you concentrate during the meeting. Here are three tips on how to prepare:

  • Study the agenda.
  • Check out participant’s LinkedIn  and Facebook profiles.
  • Prepare your own thoughts and questions beforehand. It’s a good idea to put together a checklists of ideas and possible questions you might need to ask or be asked.  This too will  enable you to listen and concentrate more attentively during the meeting.

Stay tuned for the future postings on how to do that with confidence. 

Want to watch video on this topic? Check out this: https://youtu.be/mwPhln_UsUc 

 You might also like this vocabulary tip:

 When It is OK and Not OK — OK Usage


tn[2] (2)**Dr. Nara Venditti is the owner of Succeed In America specializing in business communication skills for foreign-born professionals and cross-cultural communication in the workplace. She is passionate about helping non-native speakers of English succeed in the American workplace and educates on Business English and communication across language and cultural divides. She is  the author of numerous articles and books on the topics available on SucceedinAmerica  and  on  Amazon amazon-underground-app-us-black   

If you think that you know the meaning of the word OK, think again!

If you think that you know the meaning of the word OK, think again! Everybody knows what OK (also spelled as okay, Okey, Okay, or okey) means.  However, is it always used appropriately?  ok-1186364_640

General usage:

 Often foreigners and non-native English speakers are not aware of the multiple uses of the word “okay,” instead assuming that it always means “yes” or “all right.”


For instance, in a work situation when your supervisor gives you a task, such as “Could  you please make this report available by Friday morning?”, it is not recommended to say  “okay.”  A good answer would be, “Yes, of course.

I will list some common usages of the word below… 

– As illogical as it may seem, in certain situations OK  can mean”so-so” as in “How is your dad after his surgery? He is OK, but needs some therapy to recover.”

– OK can mean agreement as well as permission if there are some additional circumstances to take into consideration. For instance: “I have doctor’s appointment and will be back in two hours or so. OK,  just be sure to be back by the end of the day.”

Other usages:

  1. When you are confirming a meeting or date:  “So, we will meet on Friday at noon at the restaurant.“ “OK, agreed”.
  2. When a speaker is seeking permission: “Is it OK if I bring along kids to the party? Of course, we will be happy to have them.”
  3. OK can show irritation:  “OK, OK, calm down!
  4. “OK?” may be equal to “Did you understand me?
  5. Are you OK?” This phrase is used when somebody slipped and is about to fall.  In other words, when you are checking on a person’s condition, when they had an accident.
  6. If somebody’s coughing badly and almost choking, you might say, “OK, OK” to soothe them.
Further Resource:

Need information on Business English usage? Check out Ameri$peak, a mini-dictionary of the most frequent words and phrases  you need to know to communicate effectively in American business: Ameri$peak   or  Amazon).

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Strong accent can have an enormous impact on how people are perceived. In a University of Chicago study, it was found that people with  non-native accents are perceived as”  less credible” than those with native accents.
Many non-native speakers understand this  and  believe that it is pronouncing sounds correctly that will help to make themselves understood and  to make their point. 
This is true but my  advice to you – don’t focus just on difficulties you have with some sounds.  In many  cases, intonation is much more important.
Take so called tag questions.
Tag Questions, or, questions tags, are short phrases that change a declarative statement into a question .For example, “You are Vanessa Del Monte, aren’t you?”,  “aren’t you?” is the tag question.
Just as in many languages, tag questions are more common in everyday spoken conversational English including its business variety. However, in English, different intonation or music in tag questions, carries different meaning.
Two examples of the same statement “You are moving to New York, aren’t you?”: 
      1)     with falling intonation, “aren’t you?” implies that you are sure of something and looking for confirmation.  (I am sure that you are moving and I want your confirmation)
      2)      with rising intonation, “aren’t you?” expresses uncertainty. (I am not sure you moving and I want an answer) . Although a sentence may be grammatically correct and pronounced correctly, the wrong intonation of a tag question may convey unintended meaning.
Consider the following situation involving an ELL and ESL learner.  While on a date at a restaurant you say, “You like this restaurant, don’t you? With rising intonation, “don’t you?” sounds like you are asking if she likes it. However, with falling intonation don’t you? sounds like you are telling her to like it. What do you think her reaction will be?  Right, you guessed.  This could be your last date with this person.
Consider another situation. You are planning a one day vacation and you ask your colleague to cover your desk for a day. “You will cover my desk, won’t you?”  With rising intonation, it will sound as if you are politely asking for help.  With falling it will sound as an order or assignment which you are not  authorized for anyway.
What will it do to your relationship?  You’re right again.  Nothing good.
 
To summarize, be careful when using tag questions.  Their intonation may send a wrong message.
Strong accent can have an enormous impact on how people are perceived. In a University of Chicago study, it was found that people with  non-native accents are perceived as”  less credible” than those with native accents. Many non-native speakers understand this  and believe that it is pronouncing sounds correctly that will help to make themselves understood and  to make their point. This is true but my  advice to you – don’t focus just on difficulties you have with some sounds.  In many  cases, intonation is much more important. Take so called tag questions. Tag Questions, or, questions tags, are short phrases that change a declarative statement into a question .For example, “You are Vanessa Del Monte, aren’t you?”,  “aren’t you?” is the tag question. Just as in many languages, tag questions are more common in everyday spoken conversational English including its business variety. However, in English, different intonation or music in tag questions, carries different meaning. Two examples of the same statement “You are moving to New York, aren’t you?”: 1) with falling intonation, “aren’t you?” implies that you are sure of something and looking for confirmation.  (I am sure that you are moving and I want your confirmation) 2)      with rising intonation, “aren’t you?” expresses uncertainty. (I am not sure you moving and I want an answer) . Although a sentence may be grammatically correct and pronounced correctly, the wrong intonation of a tag question may convey unintended meaning. Consider the following situation involving an ELL and ESL learner.  While on a date at a restaurant you say, “You like this restaurant, don’t you? With rising intonation, “don’t you?” sounds like you are asking if she likes it. However, with falling intonation don’t you? sounds like you are telling her to like it. What do you think her reaction will be?  Right, you guessed.  This could be your last date with this person. Consider another situation. You are planning a one day vacation and you ask your colleague to cover your desk for a day. “You will cover my desk, won’t you?”  With rising intonation, it will sound as if you are politely asking for help.  With falling it will sound as an order or assignment which you are not  authorized for anyway. What will it do to your relationship?  You’re right again.  Nothing good.   To summarize, be careful when using tag questions.  Their intonation may send a wrong message.  
Every day millions of people use numbers either in face-to-face or over the phone interactions. Numbers may and do cause much confusion. This is because some numbers in English are pronounced similarly but have different stress patterns. Reversing the stress is likely to lead to disconnect between the communicating parties. These numbers are in the teens, such as 13, 14, 15…19, and in tens, such as 30….-90. We are talking about just seven pairs of numbers, but the impact of misunderstanding is huge – we use them all the time. Confusing these two pairs of numbers, can cause missing an important appointment, losing a sale, going to the wrong address – the possibilities are endless ! This is especially true for foreigners when accents and mispronunciation can wildly DISTORT the meaning. SITUATION Consider these examples This task will take me 16 hours to complete (compared to) This task will take me 60 hours to complete My wife is 14/40 years old This item costs 19/90 dollars The address is 15/50 Main Street (and so on and so forth). 

Here are two tips for you, to avoid misunderstandings when using these numbers Make sure you stress first syllable in 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, and second syllable in 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90. Clarify and say “one three” or “three-zero” to help to visualize the number. Watch this video on the topic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYmouJv7eyk&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL