Together with my spouse, I was now traveling in the Carolinas. Hiking in state parks, wine tasting at Tuscan-like wineries, sightseeing on historic trails in Charleston. And again and again we were approached for nice but non-binding conversations with locals on site.
“Where do you come from?”
That was always the initial question. And it was based on taking note of the conversations with the friends who accompanied us.
I turned the question around, foreseeing the result: “What do you guess?”
Sure, then came: “Germany?”, without exception – always!
I replied, “How did you know?”
Short pause in conversation. Silence that I then broke with a smile. “Well, I guess, it is my German accent.”
The relief of my counterpart that I gave the answer myself was literally palpable. Our interlocutors always had a little story about Germany to share. Own visiting experiences or a history of ancestry. Or even a study visit.
And how did I think about it?
The introductory question was a polite phrase to get into conversation (self-disclosure). I am aware of that. However, the other three facets of the communication square based on Schulz von Thun’s model are also interesting. Even if it’s meant nicely, the relationship message is: “You’re interesting and you don’t belong here.” And that’s because of my accent (the factual content).
On the subject of communication square in this context, check out the post by @Anna Fuchs here some time ago (https://lnkd.in/eJHyGkAe), if you like.
My accent will always be with me. It was and always will be clearly German and cannot be denied. And this after decades of business experience in the States, including a two-year expat period in Boston.
I used to be ambitious and wanted to improve my accent. Today I stand by it. My accent is a part of me. Accepted.
➡ And you? How do you experience the reaction of others to your pronunciation?
If you want to go deeper into the topic of “accent”, then I truly recommend to you to take a look at the content of Heather Hansen (https://lnkd.in/eB5XdfFN).
If you are interested, I accompany executives and managers who are on international assignments. Especially for those coping with Germans and/or with the German accent 😊.