Ailish Riggs, author

Many clients have approached me that represent a broad range of dialects, both American and International. Often, their requests are the same – make me sound American. As a lover of international culture and the musicality of all dialects of the world, this makes my heart heavy. I have struggled with these types of requests for coaching because I know that it is nearly impossible to eradicate a native dialect, and it would be ethically irresponsible for me to claim otherwise. More importantly, why would one want to?

In speaking with and coaching these clients, what became clear to me, eventually became clear to them – they didn’t want to sound American, they just wanted to be understood. With this shifted objective, their confidence and their enthusiasm increased. So what does that have to do with anything? Everything.

What people often forget is that our voice is part of our identity. Our sound connects us to our culture, our family, and our history. It says where we are from and shapes who we are. It is our most powerful tool for authenticity. An attempt to eradicate a dialect is an attempt to strip someone of their personal identity. As a coach, I am in the business of empowerment through clear and effective speech, and I adhere to an ethical code that ensures that one’s vocal heritage is honored. Any other approach, from my perspective, is a cultural violation.

My advice is this: Honor your dialect, your voice and the power it holds. Speak authentically and seek clarity. Use your voice as a tool for connection and meaningful engagement and your message will be clear!