I am usually someone who looks confident, and feels like I can speak out in a crowd if prepared well in advance and know the subject. However often I lose my confidence when interacting with my boss or higher management.

For example if I am in a meeting with my boss's boss and I use a wrong word (e.g. "tested on production environment" instead of "checked against production environment"), my boss's boss makes moves like pulling hair and making it a big deal which freaks me out, especially considering that English is not my first language.

For future I know not to use word "tested on production" but every now and then situation comes where I chose wrong words and get same reaction back.

In such situations how do I recover from my loss of voice/confidence after being put on spot?

  • You should consider asking how to come back from that instead so it's on topic. Anyhow, wrong word, care to give an example? It matters if this exposes a knowledge gap in your field ("pc? I thought they were called pcp. What did i just order?") or if it is a simple and irrelevant mistake like saying "supposebly "
    – Raditz_35
    Jul 10, 2018 at 8:48
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    As the question stands now it is an intrapersonal question, not an interpersonal one, albeit brought on due to interpersonal circumstances. A better question, more suited for the site, may be how to approach your scrum master to not put you on the spot.
    – GretchenV
    Jul 10, 2018 at 8:57
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    as it stands, a possible answer is "you shouldn't put too much focus into the reactions of the boss' boss and continue on with your talk... etc etc" which is still an intrapersonal suggestion... you would need to change your question to be asking about a physical action, e.g. "How can I point out the boss' dismay and apologise to him before continuing on with my presentation?" or something along those lines. This is just an example, you can define your desired goal in the question Jul 10, 2018 at 9:15
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    @enlighten_me Yes, dissing is not the job of a scrum master. The idea of the daily standup is that everyone knows what to do and who to help (the content) and generally leave a positive, productive mindset for the day (the process). Dissing is counterproductive. If you have a beef, do it outside the stand up.
    – GretchenV
    Jul 10, 2018 at 9:35
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this question seems to be asking more about personal issues than interpersonal ones.
    – sphennings
    Jul 10, 2018 at 13:36

2 Answers 2


I actually used to have this issue, as I would frequently use incorrect words or phrase something incorrectly, even as a native English speaker. I still do, but I've learned to not let it affect me in conversations if I ever do slip up.

As AskMs.D stated already, I am assuming you are subconscious about not being fluent in English. That's perfectly fine, nobody should be judging you for that. My go to response for people mocking or pointing out my incorrect grammar is to joke about it or dismiss it as a non-issue. Point out how a second language is hard to master (especially considering it's English) and that you're not perfect yet. Be sure to thank them for correcting you, as the correction is usually warranted.

Here are some references that you can base what you actually want to use in conversation.

Jokes (Only if you're witty enough to pull these off.)

"There's always something about English that I mess up on."

"My brain's thinking too fast right now."

Dismissals (What I would recommend.)

"Ah, that's the word. Thanks for the reminder."

"That's what I meant."

The dismissals are short and get right to the point, so I would recommend starting with that. With jokes, YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary), which means it depends person to person. Some people are better at making jokes than others, so only do it if you're comfortable with it yourself.

Don't mind your colleagues reactions to what you said. Again, you are not a native English speaker, so there is only so much you can do, as you will not possibly know as much as someone who has grown up speaking English. Keep learning and just adapt your message with the recommendations that your colleagues give you.


The best way to gain your confidence in any situation is to know your topic, or field etc. You have to be so versed in whatever it is that no matter where you are or what your doing, no one can make you feel awkward.

It seems as if you are very subconscious about not having mastered English as a second language. The first thing to do is to practice words that you know are related to field of study and learn them until they become second nature. Once you have mastered the English language, and with your current knowledge, there is no fear behind anything you do.

Confidence is knowing what you know to be accurate, strong and indisputable. It is all in how you view yourself, personally, socially, and spiritually. Get comfortable with yourself, and build your confidence by mastering language, Social settings, and environment. You can do it if you really want to feel confident with what you already know.

Good luck and practice.

  • 1
    This feels like a suggestion of "just don't make mistakes." Even masters in a field make mistakes. I feel like this answer could benefit either from talking about how to recover when you make a mistake, or else some mention of how it's different from just not making mistakes when talking.
    – Tesset
    Jul 10, 2018 at 17:39

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