When we email people, we have no idea what their voice is like or what accent they may have. We often go by their name and imagine what someone sounds like based on their name. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, you probably do this too…subconsciously.
A few people I have previously worked with told me about the difference in their confidence when they are writing professional emails and when they are making or taking phone calls at work.
It’s easy to have a some-what anonymous identity when you are writing professional emails at work. However, when that email turns into a phone call, the other person hears our voice, the way we speak, the accent we have. Without realising, they begin to categorise and make judgements about what we might be like in person.
A woman I once worked with expressed the difference in her confidence when she is emailing and when she is on the phone. Coming from an Eastern European country, her name gives the impression she may be from England, let’s call her Samantha for now (though that is not her real name).
Customers call her line directly, they sometimes ask for Samantha, not knowing they are talking to Samantha. She often has to go through an awkward ‘coming out’ as an Eastern European woman. Like ‘haha… yes, this is Samantha, I probably don’t sound as you expected’, justifying who she is and making the caller feel comfortable with how she speaks.
Shortly after, Samantha worries about any judgement being made about her. She wonders if she is being categorised or if she is being placed in typical stereo types associated to her home country.
Can you imagine how it feels when someone with an accent has to make work related calls, and the person on the phone all of a sudden treats them differently now that they know how they sound? And that the way they sound is… foreign?
That’s something I will leave you to think about. Whether you are a native English speaker or someone with a foreign accent.