Created :
November 30, 2022
|Updated :
November 30, 2022
Written By :
Pragyan Sharma

Common blocks to effective communication Indian working professionals face with spoken English.

Table of Contents
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    Do you think you are underpaid because you lack Fluent English communication skills?

    If your answer is NO, then think hard and think again - Here is something that will change your mind 👇

    🪖 Michael Curry, CEO of British Council's EnglishScore, revealed a surprising statistic from the Cambridge English report in his interview with India Today.

    Michael revealed that more than half of the Indian employers would be happy to offer a better starting salary package to candidates with good English language skills.

    Did that make you feel:

    Shocked? 😲

    Surprised? 😮

    Angry? 😠

    Sad? 🙁

    Disappointed? 😔

    Worried? 😟

    That feeling you just experienced is because of your emotions. When triggered, your emotions can affect your behaviour and how you react to a situation. Such emotional responses can originate from:

    • lack of experience
    • Fear of expressing ideas

    Science calls it a mental block. A mental block is your mind’s inability to process or react to new information or a situation you didn’t experience earlier. So, when you face something new, what usually happens?

    You lose your train of thought, and your mind struggles with performing a mental action.

    Now, picture this scenario in your workplace:

    Your colleagues are from different cultures, cities, and towns, but they all speak English. You grew up speaking either Hindi or your mother tongue. English was only a part of your syllabus.

    You know English well but lack the confidence to speak in front of others.

    “Everyone speaks in English here. I don’t speak it as well as them. Will I be able to communicate with them? What if they think I don’t know English?”

    This brings us to the first psychological block that Indian working professionals face:

    Attitudes and values

    You come across someone speaking better, confident English than you. What is your first reaction to it?

    Oh, he speaks so well. Wish I could have that confidence.” - Negative emotion.

    You grew up believing in something. Those beliefs made as a child persist in you as an adult. So, you form a certain attitude towards it, an opinion based on your experiences.

    When those beliefs face a threat, your mind goes into a block.

    How it affects workplace communication?

    Your opinion on something causes you to form a false assumption about someone or something. In turn, this also affects your body language and speech tone. It affects the capability to understand the message completely. It also becomes difficult to understand from where the other person is coming.

    How to overcome this block?

    Oh, he is so confident and speaks great English. I should listen to it so that I can also learn something.  - Positive emotion.

    Your goal is to turn that negative emotion into a positive one. What can you do to achieve that?

    1. Let the negative emotion come to you.
    2. Feel it because it’s natural.
    3. Don’t react based on that emotion.
    4. Wait before that thought subsides.
    5. Shift your focus from reactive to attentive listening.

    Negative self-image

    There are people with better English language skills than me in this office. Would I be able to match up with them?”

    As you start conversing with your colleagues and managers, you will see many other fears inside you being revealed. Again, these are all developed through your experiences and opinions.

    Hence, there will be instances where you would feel lesser than others. It can also cause you to withdraw from any interaction. It creates fear, and you might develop a negative self-image or low esteem.

    How it affects workplace communication?

    A negative self-image can make you emotionally unaware. You will find it difficult to understand others’ feelings. In turn, it affects your productivity levels. You also get more defensive when someone tries to tell you that your work lacks precision.

    How to overcome the block?

    The best way to overcome a negative self-image is not to allow someone else to dictate your actions. But the first step is to be aware of them. In the workplace, the trick is to put your opinions confidently but don’t fear criticism or negative responses. Tell them what you think about a particular situation and colleagues would want to listen to you.

    Fear and defensiveness

    “I know how it works! And I can explain it better if all of you pay a little more attention to understand!”

    Such behaviour in a workplace puts everyone in a sticky situation. Instead of accepting that the speaker might be wrong, they justify their actions and mistakes. It leads to losing their credibility.

    And the impact of such behaviour can pass on to receivers also. When the speaker isn’t able to accept their mistakes, it creates a boundary. Such boundary becomes hard for receivers to cross. They might feel fearful of speaking up. They can also feel if they speak up, the speaker would insult them and not listen. Such situations can lead to misunderstanding because the message isn’t conveyed properly.

    How it affects workplace communication?

    Defensiveness can show up in the workplace in many forms. It further affects communication because it involves denial and projecting through the wrong channels. You might feel frustrated because of misunderstandings and let your anger out on the wrong targets. It can also drain you emotionally because it creates a mental block. It also creates fear and you might start avoiding interactions.

    How to overcome the block?

    A good way to overcome such blocks is to find someone in the workplace whom you can trust. This person should be able to point you out when you’re getting defensive in a situation. Also, they can tell you that you are focusing your attention on the wrong things. They can also help you direct that same energy to more productive things like finishing reports on time or ticking things off your to-do lists.

    Further, it’s always better to communicate directly. If you’re in a managerial position, allow your team members some room to grow and tell them that such behavior affects productivity on many levels.

    False assumptions

    The capacity of both the senders and receivers to convey or receive a message depends on personal experiences. Also, no two people can be the same.


    A manager assigns a team member to draft SMART goals for an upcoming task. He/she assumes that the member knows SMART goals without explaining. The team member, on the other hand, might know SMART system but he/she would still want the manager to explain once.

    If a sender assumes that the receiver understood the message even though the latter only partially understood it, it can create miscommunication. Similarly, the receiver also wants the sender to convey a message in a certain way that they understand.

    How it affects workplace communication?

    False assumptions often lead to getting away from reality. They tend to create more problems for others and yourself than there are. When you think you understood what someone said, or vice versa, it affects your decisions. In turn, it leads to a spiral of baseless conclusions formed based on one’s own understanding. When employees make assumptions about words and actions, they run a high risk of being wrong.

    How to overcome the block?

    The best way to not fall into the trap of false assumptions is to improve listening skills. If you have even the smallest idea that you might be assuming something about what someone said, learn to listen to them carefully. More than speaking, interrupting, or just agreeing - asking questions to clarify your doubts is much better.

    Some assumptions can also arise due to cultural and social differences. So, learn about how those experiences can cloud your mind. Also, understanding non-verbal cues help minimize distractions and lets you focus on the important things.

    Final thoughts

    • If you have a level of confidence in your grammar, vocabulary and sentence construction, this confidence will reflect in the way you speak.
    • If required, you might want to enrol with an institute or expert trainer to help you understand your current level and identify areas for improvement.

    Table of Contents
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