Tag Archives: fear

Confidence is Competence!

They are twins. They are the flip side of a coin. As you build up your belief in yourself to do something you gain the nerve to do it. Once you do it or attempt to do it you start to notice what you are doing right, that it wasn’t as bad as you had imagined it, and that maybe next time will be even better.

As you feel more competent at the activity you start to believe more in your ability to improve and maybe even get good at it. This gives you more confidence, even if it is mostly visualization at the beginning. So I could go on with this email but I think you can see my point. The confidence leads to taking more chances and doing things better, so that increases competence, and the increased competence increases your confidence. It will radiate out of you.

Dale Carnegie said it best: Do the thing that you are afraid of. That is the one sure way of conquering your fear! (He was talking about public speaking, but it can be related to many things).

Until next time!

Are You Afraid of Phoning?

Have you ever had the chance to call someone, but you didn’t? Maybe you sent an email instead, or maybe you said to yourself “Oh, I don’t need to call, he/she knows what I am thinking.” It is strange but true, many people, not just ESL students and immigrants, have a fear of phoning (in English).

It is easy for me to tell you “don’t be shy” but I realize that every time you speak to someone in English, you feel you are being judged in proficiency, and even in intelligence. I have been working with non-native English speakers since 1994 and I can also tell you that when I was teaching at a teacher’s college in rural China (Tongren, Guizhou) from 1998-2000 I also felt people were judging my intelligence by how I spoke Chinese to them.

However I took a lesson from the Spanish speakers of the world – they are never shy to try to speak English! Yes I know the Spanish alphabet and language are closer to English than some others, especially Asian languages, but I want to make a short point here – don’t be shy! That’s right, the more you try, the further you progress. There is no sense waiting until your English is ‘perfect’ because you are only hurting yourself. So the next time you have an opportunity to call someone, just try. Here are some quick tips to help:

1 – prepare unknown vocabulary ahead of time so that you can not only speak more precise words but you can listen more effectively.  Learn ISV – industry-specific vocabulary – to help.  For example, before calling to order a pizza, study the online menu or brochure to make sure you know the meaning and proper pronunciation of the main parts of the conversation, like delivery, fees, toppings etc.

2 – ask the other speaker to speak slowly if you are not catching everything right away.  

3 – Ask the speaker to speak up if their volume is hard to hear. 

4 – remember are all human and there are millions of people calling everyday who are not native speakers, so you are not the only one!  🙂