Does your accent really matter in the workplace……?

Originating from the South West, Bristol to be precise and living there until the lure of University pulled me away, I was never aware of what my “accent” was.  Where’s that too, All right me Lover, Gert Lush, Mint and Thanks Drive was just part of my upbringing.

I never thought about it, until I started mixing with people from various parts of the UK. I quickly realised that I sounded very different from my London, Oxford and Northern friends and I am ashamed to admit that I tried to hide my accent and change it to fit in.  Feeling different didn’t sit well with me then and moving back to Bristol after University, my accent had changed so much that my family and friends where inclined to take the mick. They said I had lost my Bristolian accent (which was true) and to say my accent was all over the place was an understatement.

Flash forward a few years (quite a few years to be honest) and I now reside just outside of Birmingham, near the Black Country, working in the middle of Birmingham and married a West Midlands girl. My accent is now a blend of Bristol, Birmingham, Black Country and possibly more!

But does all this matter in the work place?

If you’ve got a strong Glaswegian or Liverpudlian accent, you probably know about it, but most people are, understandably, so used to their own accent that they do not realise how they come across and, potentially, what assumptions others may make about the way they speak.

Having worked for a few different organisations and mixing with people from all walks of life, I have noticed that because of the way you speak, an immediate assumption is frequently made about you. My reality is that having a strong accent can be positive and help you stand out in the office – especially a workplace where there are plenty of people who came from similar backgrounds and had a similar education – and it can be used to your advantage.

But should all this matter?  In my humble opinion no. I have worked with some outstanding individuals with the broadest accents who were both smart and articulate within the work place and superb at their roles. Now, having got a bit older and greyer, I am very proud to say that my accent is slightly different and I enjoy the fact that people pick up on it and am slightly disappointed when they don’t!

It is difficult to conclude as to whether it matters because while it is true that accents in the workplace shouldn’t matter – after all, not even the Queen speaks with the same cut-glass accent she had as a child – it is unrealistic to think that no one notices your accent or, hopefully less frequently, judges you on it. What is far more important than your accent though is what you say and how you say it.

So be proud of your roots and use them to your advantage in the workplace……………

 

by Ben Osborne – May 2018

Qualified Finance Recruitment Consultant

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