Using A Growth Mindset to Improve Communication skills in English

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Learn how to harness a growth mindset to improve your communication skills in English. We discuss the distinction between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset, and we also discuss this dichotomy in terms of an empowered mindset and a defeatist mindset.

Hello, Advanced English learners. Welcome back. So today I wanted to make the distinction between two types of mindsets that are very important when we are engaging with people in English, when we are interacting, when we are building that confidence within us to perform certain tasks, perform certain speech acts.

Introducing yourself, giving a talk, making a speech, giving a presentation, any type of social interaction. And so the two different mindsets that we're going to talk about today are first, the defeatist mindset, and secondly, the empowered mindset. All right, so let's get into it.

Okay, so the defeatist mindset is very similar to what it sounds, like what word is in that? What verb it is defeat, right? So to feel defeated means you feel like the whole world's against you. You feel like you've lost, you feel just really downtrodden, really heavy in a lot of ways that nothing's going in your favor.

And so the opposite of that is the empowered mindset. So you can also think of it as the dichotomy between the growth mindset, which would be the empowered mindset and the fixed mindset, which would be the defeatist mindset. The fixed mindset in a nutshell, it's this idea that all of your skills that you have are innate skills, meaning you were born with those skills.

And so if you're just really good at math, you're going to forever be good at math. That's fixed. But on the flip side, something that you might not be good at might be sports or spatial intelligence, let's say. So with that idea, then you feel that you're not born with those qualities of being good at sports.

You don't have that spatial awareness or intelligence, and it's going to be that way always because that's fixed as opposed to the growth mindset thinking "I might not be someone with natural ability to play sports, but with good practice, good training, good discipline, consistency I can be someone who gets really good at sports."

You might see where I'm going with this. There's a lot of overlap with these mindsets and how you feel with your own language learning journeys and your ability to communicate in English. So let's take a look now at two different examples of what you might be saying to yourself from a defeatist mindset versus an empowered mindset.

All right, and let's see if any of these resonate with you. If they seem like these are some things that you've either struggled with in the past or are currently struggling with now, and I'm sharing these so that you can think about maybe flipping the script on it, right? Thinking instead of not as a defeatist mindset but thinking of it from an empowered mindset.

All right, so are you ready for the examples? Let's go.

So somebody might think from the defeatist mindset perspective, I'm no good at languages. I'm just not good at learning them, at speaking to them. I just don't have that knack for languages. 

Okay. So that's the defeatist mindset. What about from the empowered mindset perspective? What would that person say?

They would say, I'm not that great at languages yet, but with hard work and discipline and smart work. I'm going to get there. I'm going to be somebody who's going to be good at languages. Okay, so you see the difference between the two. One basically gave up, felt defeated, and said, I'm just no good at it. So it's always going to be like that. That is the absolute truth.

The other person said, at this moment, at this given moment in time, I might not be good at it. But with persistence, consistency, hard work, all of the things that we know we need to be doing, if we want to level up and get better at something. They're going to invest time and energy and they will be good at that skill.

They're going to be good at learning languages. Right now they might not be that great at it, so not yet, but soon enough. Okay. So that's a huge difference there.

Let's go to the second one.

I'm so fed up. My accent is so strong. In fact, it is too strong. People don't seem to be understanding me, and it bothers me. My pronunciation bothers me. Okay, so that could be someone from the defeatist mindset perspective, talking about how they're not pleased with their accent or their pronunciation. 

What does that look like reframed from the perspective of an empowered mindset? Let's have a look at that.

I am working on my accent. I am not ashamed of my accent. It shows that I speak more than one language. It is unique to me. My goal is intelligibility. If I want to work on my accent, I know that I can take the steps necessary that will help me pronounce words a little bit better than I am currently doing right now, but I'm not going to let it get to me because the process is an ongoing one. I am pleased with the progress that I've made so far. If it's really important to me to change the way I speak, I'm going to work on it, but it's not something that I'm going to have bother me anymore because my goal is intelligibility. My goal is to be able to communicate. Even with the accent that I currently have.

Okay, so you see the two different situations there. One person is just beating themselves up over their accent, their pronunciation, and let me tell you, a lot of people come to me for that. They ask me, what do I do about my pronunciation?

Mary Daphne, what do I do about my accent, md, what do I do? What do I do? I don't like it. You know, In a rut because of this, in a rut means that you're upset, a little bit depressed about it. And so it's really important to reframe. If something is so important to you, then you're going to take the necessary steps to get better at it.

But don't wallow in self-pity. Don't wallow in this defeatist attitude of, oh, it's never going to change. No matter what I do, it doesn't change. Honestly, that means that you might not be doing what you need to be doing. If you're doing certain things and nothing is changing, then maybe you're not doing the right things.

So it's really important to keep this in mind while at the same time, not beating yourself up over it, not being defeatist about it. Instead, reframe the language because that's extremely powerful, the language that you're using to talk to yourself. That self-talk. Crucial. 

Don't forget the first dialogue that we have as we frame thoughts, as we go about our day, even during interaction with people, it's the dialogue that we have with ourselves. So if you can't be at peace with who and what you are, then there's a lot of inner work that needs to be happening. So please keep in mind that you have the power to reframe the mindset. So going from a defeatist mindset to an empowered one.

Let's continue with some of these examples because I think they're really helpful.

Ugh, I make so many mistakes, it really bothers me. Okay, that's defeatist. 

Now let's have a look at the empowered way of thinking this.

Making mistakes is part of the journey. It shows that I'm taking risks, which is important because I'm trying out the language and there's no way to really level up unless I get out of my comfort zone and take risks. I know that. But I do have to be mindful. If I find that I'm making the same mistake time and time again over and over, then this is something that I really should pay attention to so that it doesn't become ingrained and inculcated in this time. So really thinking about, are these mistakes? Are these errors? What is the frequency of this? And that is all within my power. It's all within my control.

So that is a reframed way of uh, why do I make so many mistakes? I make so many mistakes. Really taking time to internalize that and reframing it.

I'm not confident. Okay, so again, that's defeatist. It's this idea that you're not confident right now, and that means you'll always feel that way. You won't feel confident ever of course, very important to not get stuck in that way of thinking, because that can really pollute your brain waves and your head space. We don't want any of that. 

So let's reframe this. Let's flip it on its head and see what an empowered mindset looks like for this.

I am not always confident, and I don't expect myself to always be confident. When I am not confident there are certain things that I'm going to do, certain actions that I'm going to take, followed by a strong sense of self and purpose that is going to help ease me into a more confident state of mind. But I'm not going to put pressure on myself to always feel the need to be confident 100% of the time, because that's just not reality. But I'm going to take the actions that I need to take. I'm going to do the action that helps me feel more confident. 

Huge difference, right? Again, one is static, one is dynamic. The dynamic one is about growth. It's about feeling empowered. It's about you have the power to change something that you don't like. You can change it. 

The fixed one is basically giving up saying, this is just how it is. This is how it was yesterday. This is how it is today. This is how it will always be. And of course, that's just not true. So really, I encourage you to make the distinction between these types of mindsets and really favor the empowered mindset.

All right, Let's now look at the last one. 

Someone with a defeatist mindset might say:

I'm afraid to speak English because my English is no good. I'm going to wait until my English is perfect and then speak with people. I'm going to wait until I don't make any mistakes, that I speak as fluently as a native speaker, that I have no accent, that I speak like that person or that person instead of how I speak, and then I'm going to feel comfortable enough to do social interaction. 

So let's reframe this. Of course, a key part of language learning and communicating effectively is the ability to practice. You really do need to have social interaction to be able to get better in a language, particularly when you're working on your listening, your speaking and your communication skills.

So an empowered mindset will say, I feel a little bit of social anxiety. That is completely natural. Most people, if not all people have some sort of social anxiety when they're in social interaction, but I'm not going to let that prevent me from taking a chance to speak in public, to speak in online virtual settings with people, be it native speakers or second language learners, in English. I'm not going to be afraid to go to networking events. I'm not going to be afraid to make small talk with people, with strangers, maybe that are in the same cafe that I am at the time, on line placing an order. 

So instead, I'm going to think, the only way my English is truly going to get better is if I get out of my comfort zone, and I take that leap of faith and I interact with people. I engage with people in English. So that's the empowered mindset. That's the empowered way of looking at this situation.

So I really encourage you, the next time you feel like the defeatist mindset is getting in the way of your positive head space, then you really want to flip the script immediately. Take that defeatist mindset and turn it into an empowered one, just as I did with these examples. And I chose these examples because these are real experiences that you've shared with me in our calls that you've shared with me in emails that you've shared with me in conversations we've had. And so to be honest, there are things that I've experienced as well as a language learner. I've learned two languages myself, and I'm working on learning other languages as well.

So these are a very real part of language learning. And the truth is that we have the power to take a defeatist mindset and turn it into an empowered one, to take that fixed mindset and flip it on its head and turn it into an empowered growth mindset. So that's all within your power. It takes time, it takes patience, but as all good things do, that's pretty much how it goes, as you know, and I really encourage you to keep with it.

Don't lose hope. You can do it. You've got this. Put in the time, put in the energy, carve out some time in your day or in your night and just keep pushing, keep persevering. You can move the needle forward even if it's incremental. Progress takes time. Growth is not linear.

It just doesn't happen in a line that goes up. It's, it takes time and it's something that goes up and down and up and down and up and down. And even the down moments are still up moments, if that makes sense. Even those downfalls are times that you're progressing. So keep that in mind, and you're doing a really good job, so I'm very proud of you, and I want you to keep going.

All right. Thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate you spending the time here with me. And if you enjoyed it, let me know. Tell me in the q and a on Spotify, if you're listening on the podcast, and if you're watching on YouTube, then give me a big thumbs up and give me a comment. And make sure that you're subscribed to our newsletter, because that's where I share some new news that's going to be happening very soon, and I hope that you will join me for that exciting new opportunity. All right, see you soon.