Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

Don't Be a Robot! Here's One Way to Speak English Naturally

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 @ 08:54 AM

how to speak English more naturally, in business, robotSo you recently moved to the United States for work and since the day you arrived, you have been struggling with your English. Perhaps for you, the problem is not the technical language of your professional field. Perhaps the problem is not even giving presentations or participating in meetings. Maybe you feel confident in those situations too.

Maybe for you, the problem is speaking English naturally. You know, like a real person.

You studied grammar rules like crazy all throughout grade school and high school. You thought you would be well-prepared to communicate with anyone in the United States. Why is it then, that every time you open up your mouth to speak in a lunch meeting or a networking event, you feel and sound like a robot?

This is happening because you are speaking like an English grammar textbook! It's great to have confidence when it comes to grammar, but the truth is, excellent grammar is not what is going to help you build trust with other colleagues at work, gain an edge in your career, and really reach the level that you deserve to reach within your company.

Why? Because people want to talk with people- not robots! And people want to do business with people- not robots!



One change you can make to stop sounding like a robot


In the examples below, we can drop the subject and the verb to get a more natural, native-sounding question. Check it out!

how to speak Englsh more naturally in business better


Be careful! Should you use this trick in your writing?

English writing skills for business, how to sound more naturalSpoken English is often quite different from written English, especially if you are writing business letters or emails.


Casual emails to friends (outside of work): If you are just writing a quick email to a friend or an acquaintance, then you can still use this method of shortening your question to sound more natural. In hand-written notes to colleagues, this might be ok, as long as it's a very casual note.


Busines emails or business reports/presentations: You should avoid using this method in any work-related written materials such as emails, presentations and powerpoint slides, meeting agendas, or reports unless you know that your colleagues are expecting a very casual style in the written piece.


Got it? If you want to build real relationships with your colleagues and business partners at work, you have to know when it's the right time to stop using formal business language and start using a more casual and natural way of speaking English. Now you have one way to do that so try it out the next time you are in the office!





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Photo credit: randychiu, Ian Lamont,, Elvert Barnes

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