As a Southern woman, I have faced the question of whether or not to diminish my accent to be taken seriously in my new speaking career. It’s not the first time, as it happened on a date more than 16 years ago. At that time, I excused myself to the restroom, instead heading out the front door to an awaiting cab.

However, after over 30 years of success as CEO, I can confidently say that I am proud of my Southern roots and the unique perspective and approach it brings to my work. In this blog post, we’ll explore why it’s essential to embrace our accents and never change who we are to please others.

First and foremost, our accents are a part of our identity and story. It makes us stand out in a sea of sameness and can even give us a competitive edge in business. For example, studies have shown that a southern accent can be perceived as trustworthy and authentic, which is invaluable when building relationships with clients and colleagues. By embracing our accents, we are showing up as our authentic selves, which is empowering and inspiring to others who may also be struggling with feeling like they need to conform to specific cultural norms to succeed.

Another reason embracing our accents is important is that it allows us to connect with others more deeply. Our accents can be a common ground when meeting new people, and they can even serve as a conversation starter. When we are authentic and genuine to ourselves, we are more approachable and relatable to others, which can be a tremendous asset in business as it can lead to new opportunities and partnerships.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that we need to adjust our way of speaking to appease others, but this kind of thinking is detrimental to our self-confidence and overall well-being. When we constantly try to fit into a mold that doesn’t feel natural, we rob ourselves of the joy and fulfillment that comes from being authentically ourselves. It takes bravery to show up as our true selves despite societal pressures, but the payoff is well worth it.

Furthermore, embracing our accents and where we came from can catalyze change. By being proud of our background and its unique flair to our communication styles, we can change the narrative around what is considered “professional” or “appropriate” in business. We can challenge the status quo and redefine what success looks and sounds like in the workplace and on stage.

In conclusion, our accents are not something to be ashamed of or downplay to be taken seriously. Embracing our Southern roots and accents can bring tremendous value to our personal and professional lives, from building trust with clients and audiences to forming meaningful connections with others. It’s time we stop trying to conform to societal norms and start embracing who we are, accents and all. Let’s celebrate our uniqueness and allow it to propel us forward in business and life.

What are your thoughts? Have you struggled with embracing your accent and being your authentic self in a professional setting? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below. Thank y’all for reading!