Communicating Confidently in English at WORK: Yulin’s Story

October 31, 2022
By Jaimie-Lee Elvery

Yulin is a Senior Accountant living and working in New York. She joined Hey Lady! in January 2022 because she was struggling to communicate confidently or naturally with her manager and colleagues at work. 

“I wasn’t able to clearly communicate or express myself in meetings. I had no idea how to make real connections with my colleagues and team members. Every time I was in the office, I used to get butterflies. I was always afraid of my manager asking me questions and putting me on the spot - it was so nerve-racking.” 

After practising English inside the community for just 9 months, Yulin is proud to report that she is now comfortable speaking English in any situation, and no longer gets butterflies when she walks into the office! 🦋🤸‍♀️

Keep reading to find out how Yulin developed the interpersonal communication skills she needed to succeed in her management role, and the steps she took at Hey Lady! to help her get there!

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Yulin’s Initial Challenge: Realising the “gap” between the skills she had & the skills she needed

When Yulin transitioned from a Chinese company in New York to a larger, English-speaking trading company 2 years ago, she quickly realised that it was going to take more than just technical financial skills to succeed in her new management role. 

“I realised that the Senior Accountant job also requires excellent soft skills; interpersonal communication, teamwork, leadership, relationship-building, and so on. And these things were a real obstacle for me!” 

“Being a senior position, I obviously need to take the lead on certain projects; I need to clearly convey my thoughts and demonstrate my experience to my team. I started to get very frustrated, because even though I could easily utilise my technical skills at work, I had real problems when it came to using these soft skills.”

“I knew this was a big problem for me, and I knew that it all boiled down to one goal: to speak confident English! I was learning lots from my company, but there was still such a big gap that I needed to fill in, so I started looking for a tool - a platform - to help me improve my English confidence and help me feel calm and relaxed when I speak English.”

Finding the tool to “bridge the skills gap” (Hint: it’s Hey Lady!, obviously😝) 

“My friend recommended Hey Lady! to me, and oh my gosh! As soon as I joined, I realised this is a whole new world! I have definitely gained so much confidence since joining Hey Lady! and I’ve met so many sincere ladies here!”

But the one thing that stood out to her - unlike any other tool or platform she had tried to improve her English with previously - was the sense of belonging and unity she experienced right away at Hey Lady! 

“It’s so unique! I love that it is a women-only space, and that we all cooperate and work together, to reach a similar goal together - this is the beauty of Hey Lady! 

And while other “Business English” courses only focus on learning the idioms and phrases for the workplace, Hey Lady! gave her countless opportunities to practise professional language - along with all of the interpersonal skills she needed to have a natural conversation in real life - from day one!

“After I realised the power of this special concept, I immediately changed my monthly membership to an annual one. I really just want to stay here and speak with other ladies as much as I can to improve my English!”

And that’s exactly what she’s been doing! So let’s take a closer look at what Yulin actually did to start “closing the gap” between the skills she had when she first joined, and the skills she needed to succeed! 

4 confidence-building steps Yulin took to “close the gap”!  

Since joining Hey Lady! in January, Yulin has taken intentional steps to take her professional English skills - and most importantly, her interpersonal skills - to the next level. With her eyes set on her goal of ‘speaking English with confidence’, Yulin stopped and asked herself:

“How can Hey Lady! help me get to where I want to be - and how I want to feel - when speaking English at work? And what steps can I take today to start moving toward this goal?”

This is what I love so much about Yulin’s story! Instead of stepping inside our community and learning passively - or waiting for others to create the opportunities she needed to thrive - Yulin has been “in the driver’s seat” since day one, setting goals and charting her own way forward! 

Here are some of the steps she’s taken along her journey! 

1. Months 1-4: Yulin consciously immersed herself in English

As soon as Yulin joined her first conversation inside our community, she could see a clear path to the English confidence and fluency she was dreaming of, and she knew the secret to getting there was to immerse herself in English. 

So, she started creating her own little English world inside Hey Lady!, and began using the platform as her “English training-ground”. A safe place where she could put all the tricky things she needed to do at work into practice in real conversations, with women who wouldn’t judge her or critique her.

  • She joined conversations every day ➔ “In the beginning, I joined as many events as possible - I tried to join at least 1 or 2 events each day for the first few months, and this really helped me.”  
  • She hosted one-to-one conversations ➔ When she met another member who she “felt a spark with”, she invited them to a one-to-one conversation. She practised job interview skills, phrasal verbs and workplace idioms with her speaking partners, and even set up one-to-one conversations to create English Practice Plans together, to help each other stay on track! 
  • She used the tools & materials provided to spark conversation ➔ Yulin instantly fell in love with the “Hey Lady! way of learning”. Given her fear of being “put on the spot”, she regularly studied the Conversation Packs to take the pressure off and prepare for conversations in the community.
“The conversation topics at Hey Lady! gave me more confidence and less fear to speak to strangers, because we know the topic and how to interact with each other to navigate the conversations. It’s just a great way to practise speaking and get more comfortable!”   

2. Month 5: She started a Business English Study Group for women with similar professional goals 

Yulin had already been practising her professional English skills in one-to-one conversations with some of her speaking partners, but decided to “cast the net a little wider” to see how many other Hey Lady! members were interested in learning and improving Business English skills.   

So, she created an event in our community, titled: “Looking for partners to study Business English together

And she was blown away by the positive response from women in the community! She realised there were many more women who wanted to improve their English for work than she thought! 

“That’s where my idea for a BIG Business English Study Group really started!”

But she knew she couldn’t do it alone, so she asked one of our Big Sisters (experienced members) to co-host the first Study Group with her, and help her bring the vision to life!

“This is something I love about Hey Lady! - everyone is willing to help each other reach their goals! I just put my idea on the table, and then Big Sister Debbie and Xoxo helped me make my dream come true! And because of them, now I get to help more ladies benefit from my dream! This is just amazing!” 💖

More than 30 members joined their first Business English study group, which has continued to grow each week, to more than 70 members! 😲

3. Month 6: She started hosting her own study group (without help!)

After building up her confidence by co-hosting these public events with Big Sister Debbie, Yulin started hosting her own Business English study group every Saturday, to practise different language and skills for work, with small groups of like-minded women.

“When I was involved in meetings at work previously, my manager or CFO always used slang, idioms and phrasal verbs, and I never knew them! I used to jot down the phrases on a notepad and search them online later, but I always found it really hard to catch up. I needed to find a way to learn them, which is why I started hosting my own events every week inside Hey Lady! to study business idioms. These events include speaking, writing and listening skills.”

“BUILD IT & THEY WILL COME”

Have you heard this saying before? It’s an old saying that encourages you to just take action - in this case, to create the study group event! - and let the people with similar goals and interests naturally come to you.

And that’s exactly what Yulin did!

She didn’t wait to find the right people, or search for specific members to join her group; she just decided to create the study group at a time that suited her and see what happened!

“I really just wanted to create a commitment with a group of ladies to study together every Saturday, because that was the time that suited me, and ladies just started coming to my events regularly. It’s so motivating and FUN to study with a group! I believe that learning a language should not be a pain or a chore - it should be fun!” 

Since started this weekly study group, Yulin has covered topics such as:

  • Time management
  • Phrasal verbs
  • Business English idioms for relationships
  • Business English idioms for personality & character
  • Business English for C1 & C2 learners

“I try to focus on different skills and topics in each event, because there’s no one specific area I want to improve. In order to be fluent and confident at work, I think you should aim for overall improvement. So I’ve tried to learn as many skills as possible here.” 

“That’s why I love hosting events at Hey Lady!… Because I get to practise so many skills at one time! I practise my leadership skills, speaking skills, listening skills, time management, planning, problem-solving, responding to questions and talking on the spot, staying on track, and the list goes on!”

4. Month 8-9: She joined Level Up! 

By this stage of her journey, Yulin had already noticed a significant change in her English fluency and confidence, and felt much more comfortable engaging in small talk. But, in true Yulin style, she was on the lookout for the next step she could take to keep pushing herself out of her comfort zone and take her interpersonal skills to the next level (again!)… Which is when she joined the 8-week Level Up! Speaking Program.      

“I gained so many valuable skills in Level Up! It was definitely a good investment for me, because I learnt how to interrupt politely and keep everything on track, how to tell a story naturally, how to have chit chat with my colleagues, how to debate, how to speak up in a meeting, how to co-host meetings, etc. For example, if one person goes off topic, I now know how to politely interrupt and bring them back to the topic. All of these things really apply to my work, and are very valuable to me!” 

“I also met so many new friends through Level Up! And they’ve all given me even more opportunities to practise and improve my English. For example, my friend Leda has started a writing club, and I want to join it because I know I can learn so much from her - things I would never have known about before. It’s definitely a great asset to me, and I’m really glad I joined Level Up!Click here to find out more about our Level Up! Speaking Program 

“I have seen huge progress since joining Hey Lady! and Level Up! I feel way more comfortable at work now. I have become more confident, relaxed and calm, and feel comfortable to be myself in any kind of English conversation. Now, even when my manager puts me in the spotlight, I no longer feel nervous in my body. I don’t have butterflies anymore!”  

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Yulin’s transformation is a result of what we like to call “the Hey Lady! snowball effect”. A snowball effect is a process that starts from a simple state of small significance and builds upon itself, becoming larger (bigger or more serious). 

  • Initially, Yulin immersed herself in Hey Lady!, speaking English every day, which planted a seed to start a Business English study group.
  • She put her idea on the table and asked for help in bringing the vision to life, and the Big Sisters empowered her to start her own weekly events.
  • She then met other like-minded women who help her to stay motivated and practise professional skills regularly. 
  • And now she’s passionate about “paying it forward” and empowering newer members of our community, to help them take the lead in their own English journeys, just as she has done.

And Yulin’s “snowball” will continue to get bigger and bigger! 🤩

THIS is the power of the Hey Lady! community; the secret ingredient you can’t find in any traditional language school. Our team is here to help you find your own English voice, find your people and create the opportunities that excite you and align with your personal goals - just like Yulin!

“The Hey Lady! community has such a helpful and supportive environment - it helps make your dreams come true!”

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