People say working with me is interesting, varied and fun. They like the fact that, in my previous career, I’ve done many of the things they are facing. They appreciate my outsider’s perspective and the way that I correct their mistakes.
But, at the end of the day, it’s the results that count. Here are some of the people I have been able to help recently:
Marion, sales executive
Having just switched to a new job in a male-dominated manufacturing company, Marion knew that people would be looking at her critically, and that she needed to make a positive impact quickly. She handled this easily in German, but making the same impression in English was something that scared her. We worked on critical areas (meetings, presentations, reports, socialising), gradually reducing her uncertainty, allowing the real Marion to shine. As a result, she won the respect of her colleagues and managers, winning them over with her charming but firm manner.
Melek, supply chain manager
When we started working together, Melek had just been promoted. She now needed to contribute to international meetings, which meant refreshing her English skills, dormant since university. We agreed on an intensive refresher course, meeting three times a week online, plus an additional self-study part. Keen and clever, Melek was able to get her English up to speed quickly. She soon grew enough confidence to present her important information in the weekly international meetings, proudly observing that her English skills were better than those of other European colleagues in the meeting.
Björn, sales manager
Björn had several promotions in a short period of time and now had a number of international corporate customers. To service these, he needed the support of colleagues from the US and the UK. While the technical side was no problem, Björn felt very self-conscious and inhibited when meeting his native-speaker colleagues in social situations: before and after meetings, at lunch, going out in the evenings. We worked together on his conversational skills, practising small talk situations. He changed from being a shy listener to someone who takes part in the banter, no longer afraid of making a contribution.
As CFO, one of Christoph’s many responsibilities was to look after investor relations. Meetings with analysts would often take place in English. These meetings caused a dilemma for Christoph: how could he inspire trust and confidence in these meetings if he felt mistrustful of, and lacking confidence in, his own English skills? For over a year we worked on polishing his pronunciation, developing his vocabulary and growing his comfort zone. Now, critical questions from analysts are no problem for him. He even felt confident enough to lead a high-stakes negotiation process in English, securing an important deal for his company.
Thomas, head of sales DACH
Responsible for sales in German-speaking countries, Thomas though he wouldn’t need to use English at work. That changed when his company was taken over by a Japanese company. Now his budget presentation and his progress reports had to be in English, and tailored for CEOs from different cultures. We worked on his budget presentation first, making it clearer and simpler. While nervous before making the presentation, Thomas stayed calm throughout, knowing he was well-prepared, and was able to deal with all the questions that were asked. Good job! We’re still working on adapting his presentation style to the different nationalities of his bosses, and reducing the preparation time he needs for his monthly reports.
Christian, head of controlling, supply chain and IT
Christian heads up three departments in the headquarters of a multinational firm. Meetings take up a large part of his week. When these are in German, he is in his element: confident, witty and able to show his ability. But when the meeting language changed to English, he used to get a tight feeling in his stomach, knowing that he couldn’t present himself as he would like to. We worked on his self-image and attitude. We analysed his speech patterns. We improved the quality of his vocal delivery. Now, he’s still nervous before meetings in English, but he knows he has the tools to shine when the spotlight is on him.
Melanie, marketing manager
Melanie needed help with an important marketing presentation. This was not just important for her company, but also critical for her career development. With not much time available, we used three separate “power hours” to work on various important areas: simplifying the slides, strengthening her message, and improving the quality of her voice. On her big day, she nailed it.
Angela, HR executive
Angela was frustrated with her level of English. She can express herself elegantly in German, but could not transfer this command of language to English-speaking situations. We looked at specific situations and agreed on a process to find suitable workarounds. A change of perspective has helped her to get the most out of her ability in English, knowing that she can never be perfect. Now, her frustration level is down and her confidence up.
Philipp, IT specialist
With his technical background, Philipp’s aspiration was always to reach perfection. In his world, mistakes cause massive problems. They are to be avoided at all costs. As a result, he over-prepared everything he needed to do in English. It took a while, but over time we were able to change Philipp’s attitude to mistakes, helping him to speak more freely, and saving him a huge amount of time in his preparation.
Björn, manager software engineering
Björn had a problem common to many of my clients: native speakers of English. In international meetings, the hardest person to understand is often the native speaker. Björn was filled with dread every time certain native speakers showed up to meetings he was moderating. Together, we worked on different strategies to improve the communication with such people. As a result, he now feels less stressed when native speakers take part in meetings, knowing that the problem lies mainly with them, not him.