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How to Deal with Panic When You Speak English

Lindsay: This is an All Ears English Podcast, Episode 44: Wisdom Wednesday, “How to Deal with a Panic When You Speak English.” [Instrumental]

Gabby: Welcome to the All Ears English Podcast, where you’ll finally get real, native English conversation. Now here are your hosts, Lindsay McMahon, the ‘English Adventurer’ and Gabby Wallace, the ‘Language Angel,’ coming to you from Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Lindsay: In this episode, you’ll get six ways to kick panic to the curb in high stress English situations.

[Instrumental]

Lindsay: All right. Hey Gabby. How are you today?

Gabby: I’m doing very well. Thank you Lindsay. How are you?

Lindsay: Excellent. Excellent.

Gabby: Great.

Lindsay:

And today, I think, (you know), it’s time for us to talk about a really important topic, (you know)… Gabby:

Yeah.

Lindsay:

…for English learners and that is panic.

Gabby:

Panic. Yes, anxiety.

Lindsay:

Yeah, anxiety. What does it feel like when you panic in your body?

Gabby:

It feels like, “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!”

Lindsay:

Oh my God. It’s like your (you know) your stomach gets all, (you know), jumbled up.

Gabby:

You can’t breathe, your hands get sweaty.

Lindsay:

You can’t breathe, you get sweaty, you may even get red and start sweating and oh, it’s horrible.

Gabby:

It’s not fun.

Lindsay:

Not fun. So this happens a lot to English students

Gabby:

Yeah. Actually – well not only to English students, but it happened to me when I was living in Japan. And let me say first of all that my Japanese is a lot worse than any of you all, any of your English, so that put me at a disadvantage. But I remember living in Japan and, (you know), I really had to fend (defend) for myself, take care of myself and I had to do things like call the cable and internet company, had to call the gas and the electricity company and I had problems like my hot water was shut off.

Lindsay:

Oh my god, that sounds like a fiasco.

Gabby:

Yes. So I had to call (um) the, (you know), the gas company and tell them that I had no hot water and for them to come and reconnect my gas. So, (you know), I prepared. I looked up the vocabulary that I would need and I wrote down some words on paper, but I really didn’t know how to express myself in a correct way. I just kind of said, “No hot water. Help me.” And it worked, eventually, but honestly I had that moment of panic because the woman on the phone, the representative of the gas company, was so polite because that’s how she’s supposed to speak, but I don’t know polite Japanese and she was speaking to me so nicely and I could tell, (you know), she was being really nice and respectful, but I was like just speak to me in plain Japanese… Lindsay:

I see. Interesting.

Gabby:

…I can’t understand you. So I just kept saying, (you know), “No hot water. I am very cold.” Lindsay:

Oh my god, that sounds miserable.

Gabby:

Yeah, I think this is a really important topic because I know if it happened to me, it must happen to you guys. And we want to give you some strategies, (you know), more than just preparing vocabulary, like I mentioned, but what are some other things that you can do. So I know Lindsay, you’ve prepared a few tips for our listeners. What’s one?

Lindsay:

Yeah, (I mean) let’s just put this in context. Let’s imagine that you’re on the phone, let’s say with a customer rep (representative) in the United States and you’re calling from your own country and, (you know), you’ve prepared your script as Gabby did as well, your phrases that you’re gonna (going to) use, but then all of a sudden, the customer service rep just starts talking… Gabby:

Yeah.

Lindsay:

…fast. Okay. And he starts talking about important things like money and all of a sudden, you’re losing control. Okay. And the panic starts to set in. You can feel you’re getting hot, you’re getting sweaty. Everything. Hands are getting clammy. Okay, so what can you do? What’s the first thing you can do? Well the most obvious thing you can do is breathe. Just take five deep breaths.

Gabby:

Yeah.

Lindsay:

Okay.

Gabby:

Yeah, and it’s okay to ask the person, the representative, if they can wait for just a minute. (Um), you can say “Please wait” or “Please hold” or “Just a minute.” Lindsay:

(Mm-hm). Yeah, just actually you can put the phone down and count to ten or count to twenty. Just take it – (you know) they’re there to help you, they’re getting paid for their time.

Gabby:

Yeah.

Lindsay:

It’s not like you’re wasting their time. They’re just answering the phone.

Gabby:

Right.

Lindsay:

So put the phone down.

Gabby:

Right.

Lindsay:

And then come back. (Um) another thing you can do is – what you should do is prepare a list of ways to actually ask for repetition. What’s one way that you could ask for repetition?

Gabby:

“Could you say that again?”

Lindsay:

That’s a good way.

Gabby:

Or “I’m sorry…?”

Lindsay:

“…what was that?”

Gabby:

Yeah.

Lindsay:

Yeah, those are three really good ways. (You know) just have those in your back pocket. Be ready to use those.

Gabby:

Yeah, and there’s also another technique called clarification. So when you want to (uh) be sure that you understand what the representative says, repeat it to them, (like) for example, “Oh, so you’re saying that I will get 50% off my internet and cable bill?” So just repeat what you think you heard, even if it’s wrong, it’s okay. (Um) repeat that information and ask the representative to confirm, to say “yes” or “no” and (um) explain more.

Lindsay:

Definitely. That’s a great way to do it. (Um) and another way to say that, you can use the term “Is that right?” Right. “Oh, I get a 10% discount, is that right?” Gabby:

(Mm-hm). “Is that right?” Yeah, that’s great. And another thing you can do is just ask the representative to just explain in other words. So, (you know) (um), “I’m sorry but could you explain that in another way, I’m not sure I’m understanding.”

Lindsay:

Yeah. Perfect. Perfect. And let’s see. (Um) what else do we want to say? So just – the point here is another way to prevent these moments of panic from happening. Actually I think the only way to prevent them from happening is by get – actually putting yourself in the situation more often.

Gabby:

I agree. Actually, (um), we had an earlier episode. We talked about using 1-800 numbers…

Lindsay:

Yes.

Gabby:

…to practice your English.

Lindsay:

That was your technique. That was funny.

Gabby:

Yeah. (Um) just, those 1-800 numbers that you can find, (you know) on the back of a cereal box, or some appliances have, (you know), customer comments lines. So call them up and just prepare some questions that you can ask them or ask them about sales or coupons or whatever. Just make a list of questions and this is a way that you can practice (uh) phone interaction with representatives from different companies.

Lindsay:

Right. When the stakes aren’t so high.

Gabby:

Yeah.

Lindsay:

Right. Those situations are low stress, then you’ll be ready. Once you go through a few of those, you’ll be ready for these more high-stress situations where something’s on the line like your money or your account with some company.

Gabby:

Right. And if you do have a tutor who helps you out or a language exchange partner, ask to role play.

Lindsay:

Yeah, that’s always a good way to do it, to get more comfortable with really speaking.

Gabby:

Cool. Build your confidence.

Lindsay:

Excellent. So there you go. Those are some ways you guys can deal with the panic and we know what you’re feeling, we’ve been through it in our second languages. So if you’re feeling it, don’t blame yourself, and just use these action steps to make it, improve the situation.

Gabby:

Awesome.

[Instrumental]

Lindsay:

Okay. So we want to encourage you guys to sign up for our email list and if you do sign up for the email list, you’ll have a chance to get our e-book, “Ten Ways to Use a Podcast to Learn English.”

Gabby:

You get that immediately, instantly, for free as soon as you sign up.

Lindsay:

Yep and also there’s something really exciting coming up. People who are on the email list are gonna (going to) be able to get exclusive content. (Um), we’re not gonna (going to) say anything about it right now because it’s coming later, but get on that email list. You don’t want to miss it.

Gabby:

Yeah, it’s the only way that we’ll be able to send you exclusive content coming out that’s related to the podcast.

Lindsay:

Yeah. So we’re excited to have you guys as a part of our email community.

So come on over to www.allearsenglish.com and we will see you there.

[Instrumental]

Lindsay: Thanks for listening to the All Ears English Podcast. We’re here to help you learn English and you can help us by leaving a five star review on iTunes.

See you next time!

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