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How Being Multilingual Affects Our Personalities

How Being Multilingual Affects Our Personalities

Speaking more than one language is what many people strive for. It puts us at an advantage when we’re applying related jobs, and makes us communicate with ease in a foreign country. But this is just the surface. Researchers have found that being multilingual can affect the way we think and change our personalities!

How Being Multilingual Affects The Way You Think

The ability to switch from one language to the next is known to strengthen the brain therefore making it more flexible in problem-solving. A study published in The International Journal of Bilingualism showed that being able to think in two or more languages resulted in children doing better in tests both arithmetically, through problem solving and also enabling them to think more creatively.

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How Being Multilingual Affects Your Perspective

A multilingual is more inclined to think about who speaks to whom, who understands what context and to think in terms of what environments different languages are spoken in. They can categorize meanings in different ways and are even shown to be more sensitive to others.

A study conducted by the department of psychology and human development at Cornell University, found that children who were exposed to multiple languages from an early age are better at understanding other people’s perspectives and were much better at communication. Interestingly, they found that even children who were exposed to more than one language but only spoke one actually did just as well in the study as those that were multilingual.

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How Being Multilingual Can Change Your Personality

Anyone who is multilingual will know that what language they speak determines how they act, feel and come across to others. Many studies are coming through backing up the fact that when we switch from one language to another so does our personality and behaviour. There are many reasons for this; one being the context in which you learnt the language but also the deep-rooted culture that comes with the language you’re speaking.

In a study by Jean-Marc Dewaele and Aneta Pavlenko, results showed that, when asked, nearly two-thirds of bilinguals felt like a different person when speaking another language. Many people find it easier to express themselves in a certain language or find that one language may be softer or more spirited whereas another language may have less expressive vocabulary which results in them being more prone to using certain sides of their personalities when speaking it.

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A study conducted by Michele Koven, involved asking participants who were fluent in both French and Portuguese to narrate personal experiences in both languages. She found that there was a big difference in the way both narratives were told by each individual participant; they emphasized different traits of their personalities depending on which language they were speaking. For example, when speaking French women portrayed themselves as strong and independent yet when speaking Portuguese they were more patient and well-mannered.

Finding different sides of your personality can only serve as a way of discovering emotional perspectives on life and using this as a tool to fully understand your beliefs and passions. Being able to speak a different language therefore allows you to pursue the complex variations of people, culture and even yourself both intellectually and emotionally.

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So whether you speak several languages, or you’re attempting to learn them, there are many wonderful advantages that transcend further than just being able to converse with different people. Languages shape you as a person in many amazing and positive ways making you a true citizen of the world.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on August 4, 2020

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to master the Gentle Art of Saying No:

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1. Value Your Time

Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”

2. Know Your Priorities

Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.

3. Practice Saying No

Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

4. Don’t Apologize

A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.

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5. Stop Being Nice

Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets.

Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

6. Say No to Your Boss

Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no,” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning.

But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

7. Pre-Empting

It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

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“Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

8. Get Back to You

Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them:

“After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

At least you gave it some consideration.

9. Maybe Later

If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

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“This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.

10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

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Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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