When starting to apply for jobs and going to interviews, there is always that question that potential employers seem to like to ask: What are your biggest strenghs and weaknesses?
Talking about all my strengths does not seem to be a problem for any of us but acknowledging our weaknesses is a bit harder. You don’t want to come across as a person who thinks that he or she is perfect but at the same time you do not want to draw a negative picture of yourself.
So what is my biggest weakness? Here I can be honest, right? I do not have to pretend to be better than I really am! There is one weakness that I have when it comes to my job and that is talking to other people I don’t know yet on the phone. It is not because I don’t know what I am supposed to tell people but it is a language issue! For some reason I feel strange sitting in the office, surrounded by people speaking perfect English and talk to people on the phone while everybody is able to listen. I get bloody nervous and I start to stutter and I forget vocabulary that I usually know. This only happens on the phone and with strangers. If I am talking to my friends or colleagues on the phone it does not bother me at all but I just can’t talk to strangers when others are listening.
I encountered this problem years ago! I was perfectly fine talking to people on the phone in German but all the time somebody started to speak English, I was scared. I always had the impression that other people around me can speak better English than me and would love about my inability to speak fluently in English. I thought this would go away once I have been in the UK for a while but it didn’t.
This can become a big issue because I am starting to postpone important calls and try to contact people through email because I feel much more confident in writing to people. But I think that I am missing business opportunities if I don’t call people.
Therefore, I decided to work against this and force myself to do at least one call a day because I need to learn this and practicing it is the best way to go I guess. It is the same as with writing. I was not really good in writing stuff but ever since I started this blog, I realised that I actually enjoy writing and that it helps me improve my writing style. If I ever want to achieve more in my job I should not be struggling with calling other people. I also need to learn how to negotiate things on the phone. When I make a suggestion for something and the other party decides that they don’t want to do it, I usually feel scared and just accept it.
Yesterday, I talked to one of my colleagues about this and figured out that he has the exact same problem even though his mother language is English and he should not be struggling with the language. But still he gets nervous and does not want other people around him to listen to his phone conversations. We tend to make calls when all people around us are somewhere else and thus, nobody is listening to us except of the person we are speaking to on the phone. This seems a good way but obviously this is not the ideal situation.
I would love to do a special training to learn these kind of things because I think that it is really important to me to be able to do this in order to get better in what my job is. When I find a job in Germany I will still need to be able to speak on the phone in English. And for me, having lived abroad for nearly two years now, I want my ability to speak fluently English to be one of my strengths on my CV and not one of my weaknesses.
If anyone has any tips to share on how to overcome these problem, please feel free to comment!