Back from a 3 days intensive European training session called "Advanced Management Programme", I’ve learnt so many fundamental rules and reminded such a huge number of forgotten basics that I’d need to create a dedicated blog to expose them all (I may think of doing that at least to make sure I’ll never forget any of them again). Nevertheless, as a key learning, I have to put at the top of my list an unexpected lesson.
Even if organised in Switzerland (French side), the whole training was clearly Anglo-Saxon oriented :
The 2 (amazing) teachers and guests invited were coming from the US
2/3 of the audience was made of English-native or -workers people (lucky they are)
Most of the case studies were inspired by UK and US based real story
The key learning is : the challenge of business/meetings in English for non-English people like me is not to be able to speak a perfect academic English not even to simply understand and be understood by the other participants, it is just a question of what it takes in terms of energy. A question of how that energy captured by the language makes you loose key strengths : fast-thinking, precision, capacities to be synthetic and analytic, to react in time. To be clear, my level of English is somehow acceptable for a wide range of activities but is far too low to get any chance to be perceived as a smart guy in a such challenging context. You know what : I definitely hate the idea ! Yet, that did not avoid me to learn a lot, may be as much as my English colleagues, it just took me more time and energy…
Why did that occur to me this time more than ever before ? Probably because the level of the training was really high and based on an ongoing interaction which requested the audience to be on a “turn-on” mode all the time. In addition, it is for sure more frustrating to miss a part of a speech when you feel, know, understand how brilliant it is but don’t get immediately all the benefits because of stupid language barriers. Considering the space taken by Anglo-Saxon people not only during the sessions but after, late in the night, when all other people were running to bed totally exhausted, it seems obvious that the language plays a role far beyond the visible aspects.
I can speak in English (with mistakes but who cares ? take this note as a test), the experience helped me to understand what "fluent in English" really means. That is what is now at the top of my "needs list" for my personal/professional development, whatever it takes.