The power of communication beyond accents

During my MBA, McKinsey once visited our campus for a pre-placement talk. One of their consultants who addressed us was a South American with a very heavy Spanish accent.

He joked saying, “Whenever people tell me that I don’t have an American accent, I tell them that I have a New York accent.”

And he was technically right since New York is a global melting pot. In fact, its ethnic and linguistic diversity was initially quite a surprise to me.

Yet, accent was rarely a problem for anyone, including me. In the US, even well-known university professors who migrated decades ago, often speak with thick accents.

Communication is (and should be) primarily about substance and clarity. I am not claiming that accent does not matter at all — after all, humans will have their prejudices and biases.

Those of us from rural or non-privileged backgrounds may feel that our accent is the problem. But as long as what we say is clear and easy to understand, most people will look past our accent and mannerisms.

However, here is the big deal — speaking with logic, clarity, and brevity.

Polishing accent is relatively easy. Building clarity and brevity, however, can take a lifetime. That is where we all have real work to do.

– Rajan

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