For many international business professionals, the thought of communicating in English at work causes stress and anxiety. Expressing ideas clearly to colleagues and clients can be a challenge because of the inability to use correct vocabulary or expressions. In addition, many find it necessary to repeat themselves due to a strong accent or incorrect pronunciation and have difficulties with business emails.
Some have watched countless videos, studied grammar books, and even spent money on courses and apps promising better English in a short amount of time. However, they’re still not at the level they want to be at in their career. The truth is that many burn out before ever reaching the level of English proficiency they want.
Instead of continuing to learn everything, it is essential to focus on what is needed to advance their business English communication skills which will help improve their job performance and secure future career opportunities.
For example, let’s say someone’s vitamin C level is low, and they want to fix it. Instead of taking concentrated vitamin C pills, they might decide to take multivitamin pills. What happens next? If they take multivitamin pills every day, their vitamin C level will not improve as much as they’d like because they are not focused on solving the problem.
It seems very straightforward, but this is exactly what happens to many in their English learning journey. They try to learn everything about English, but really, it’s only necessary to focus on the English needed to make those meetings, calls and daily interactions a much more pleasant experience.
If this sounds familiar, follow these three steps to enhance your communication skills and improve your job performance.
Step 1. Master the functional language and vocabulary needed to better express yourself
This is essential because it’s only by mastering these particular phrases and vocabulary that many truly develop the confidence to express themselves in a natural way. Stop focusing on memorizing those endless lists of vocabulary that you’ll probably never need and start focusing on learning the expressions that really matter. This includes common phrasal verbs, collocations and idioms used in key business interactions. It is also helpful to learn the difference between formal and informal language so you can adjust your communication style depending on the situation. Once you learn this, you will be able to better express yourself and sound more natural.
Step 2. Improve your pronunciation
What’s the point of knowing all those impressive new expressions if nobody can understand you when you use them? If you need to repeat yourself often because colleagues and clients can’t understand you, it’s time to find out what your pronunciation weaknesses are and start working towards improving them immediately. Identifying your problem sounds is a good place to start, however there are a few other areas to take into account when speaking English.
First, words are not spoken word by word but are spoken in sound units that may not correspond with the words on a page. Speaking in sound units allows you to combine words together as a phrase and seamlessly connect them to flow smoothly without having a choppy rhythm.
Second, intonation is extremely important. Rising and falling intonation gives you the American sound and allows you to stress important information in a sentence. Also, the primary stress of individual words can change the entire meaning of words with the same spelling.
Third, learning common English reductions such as, GONNA (going to), GOTTA (got to) and HAFTA (have to) can help you sound more like a native speaker. Incorporating all of these techniques will allow you to speak more naturally and help others to better understand you.
Step 3. Learn how to write professional emails that will leave a great impression
Do you hesitate to push send on your emails fearing they may contain errors? Your email is often the very first impression a person receives of you. If you have ambitions and plan to get promoted, then you'll need to learn how to write error free emails in English that get results. Learning how to write clear and concise emails in English can allow you to save time, better communicate your message and increase the likelihood of receiving a timely reply. Challenge yourself to learn the correct structure and key phrases that you can use over and over again. This will ensure your writing always leaves others with an excellent impression of you.
Communicating clearly and confidently in English at work doesn’t have be stressful. It simply requires focusing on the specific steps to acquire the skills you need to succeed professionally. Mastering the functional language for important business situations, improving your pronunciation and learning to write concise, error free emails will allow you to be more confident when communicating and ultimately lead you to the professional success you deserve.
Want to improve your business English today?