Many of us will have heard the age-old statistics in training seminars that only a fraction of the message we convey when we speak is held in the words that we say. Indeed, body language, tone, volume and a myriad of other factors play a role in carrying meaning across, but it’s easy to forget that these same factors also have an impact on how we’re perceived by others both professionally and socially. In fact, non-native speech can cause different inferences to be drawn from the same phrase by others.
Take for example, the US expression ‘Uncle Sam’, an interesting personification of the United States. If somebody walks into the room and in an American accent announces “Uncle Sam is here”, some people will wonder when they stumbled into a film set and ask themselves why this person is referring to himself in the third person. In contrast, if a British person walked into the room with the same comment, people would assume his Uncle Sam would be joining them for afternoon tea and a scone.
Whilst this is a light hearted example, it serves to demonstrate that although the English language is shared amongst millions on the planet, it comes in many shapes and sizes and is on occasion unintelligible amongst people who would all consider it their mother tongue.
Here are 4 reasons why gaining a British accent is a worthwhile endeavour.
To whittle down years of psychological research into a simple phrase almost seems clumsy, but it is true: people like people who are similar to themselves and accents are by no means an exception.
Being part of a team means having to build a rapport and a non-native accent can sometimes lead to you feeling a little out of place, something that won’t help in developing a working relationship.
Speaking with the same accent can remove the subconscious ‘us and them’ that may develop.
Authority is a strange concept but it does rely on effective communication. If you’re addressing a group in the workplace and parts of what you say are misunderstood, you may find yourself undermined.
Building on the theme of rapport, trust is gained from long-term relationship building and if you fail to become one of the team, trust isn’t something that will develop.
4. Understand your own language better
When we take a look at how we speak under the microscope and examine how we really put words and sounds together, it’s surprising. You’ll realise there are letters and sounds that exist on paper but you’ve never given it much thought in speech.
This is a great skill for future development and allowing yourself to adjust to speaking in different ways that suit your situation and environment is important.