Workplace English Podcasts

BEP 80: Passing on Telephone Messages to Clients

06 Aug 2018

telephoning

Introduction

Remember when passing on messages to clients, details are very important. It does no good to relay a message if you’ve forgotten the time of the appointment or can’t remember the name of the person calling. Everyone makes mistakes and sooner or later most people forget a detail, but the most important thing is communicating this information clearly and accurately. 

When you’re being given a message to pass on to someone, never be afraid to ask for clarification, repetition or anything else, particularly when dealing with detailed information. It’s much more important to ask a few times and be sure it’s right than to give out the wrong information.

In this podcast lesson, you're going to listen to Beth relaying some messages to her company's clients. Beth works as a receptionist for a large garment manufacturer. Today is the first day back in the office after a one-week holiday, and several managers are still on vacation. They've instructed Beth to pass on messages to clients they know will be calling.

Situation 1

In the first situation you’re going to listen to Beth passing on a message to a client.

 

BEP 89: Getting Acquainted in Work Situations

23 Jul 2018

podcommunication

Introduction

In this month's podcast lesson we're looking at a typical conversation you might have with someone you've only just met in a business situation – at a conference for example. What sort of things can you talk about – and what topics should be avoided?

Situation

In the following situation, David and Jenny are attending a business conference in Sydney, Australia. David is an Australian, while Jenny is from England. Let's look at how David and Jenny get acquainted.

 

BEP 92: Handling Difficult Requests

04 Jul 2018

podcommunication

Introduction

In a perfect world, we’d never have to talk about problems or need to face difficult situations. But as we all know, discussing problems and finding solutions to problems are both necessary to maintain good business relationships. We shouldn’t avoid these situations but look at them as an opportunity to improve business communication with colleagues and customers.

We cannot always say “yes” to a difficult request from a client or a colleague. Sometimes, it may not be possible to grant a request. At other times, a compromise may be reached. In such situations, the language and tone you use are important. You don’t want to offend or upset the person making the request.

In this podcast lesson, we’ll use a telephone dialogue to illustrate how to deal with difficult requests without causing offence.

Situation

Wynn Newberry works for a Marketwatch Magazine, a fashion and style magazine that is holding a public event the launch of a new bar. He wants to print 10,000 publicity flyers to hand out at an upcoming event and as time is limited, he needs the flyers quickly. He calls Sara, his printer.

 

BEP22: Business Small Talk - First Meetings

20 Jun 2018

small_talk

Many of you will be working for international companies where you come into daily contact with foreigners. Whether you’re working face-to-face with a foreign colleague in your office, or just bump into a foreigner you know in your company canteen, a corridor, a lift or when you are arriving or leaving work, you’ll need to make some conversation. You don’t always need to talk about work, although this is what you have in common and it is easier to talk about things that you both know about.

Social conversations are important when you want to build better relationships with people and when you want to develop closer friendships. If you want to become more than just work colleagues, you’ll need to talk about things other than work!

Situation

You're now going to listen to two dialogues. In the first dialogue, Barbara Powers and Lee Lu, colleagues in Parma, a large multinational banking company, meet for the first time. Lee has recently been transferred to the Beijing office where Barbara is a manager.

 

BEP 03: Controling Meetings and Expressing Opinions

04 Jun 2018
meeting

In this podcast lesson we’re looking at a more formal meeting – and in particular at the role of the chairperson – or the person who runs the meeting.

Our Chairperson is SIMON. Let’s look at how he starts things off.

Has everybody got a copy of the agenda?

Would you mind taking minutes John?

Not at all.

Good. Well then, let’s get started.

SIMON first makes sure everyone has an agenda – or a list of the items to be discussed at the meeting.

Then he asks someone to take minutes – or keep a record of the meeting. Then he announces the start of the meeting – he officially begins it.

Let’s practise some useful phrases for these three purposes.

 

BEP 46: Business Small Talk - Switching Techniques

22 May 2018

Small talk may be used to fill silences or get to know someone you’ve just been introduced to. In this podcast lesson, we’re going to look at how to switch the topic of conversation when you want to move on from small talk to a business-related issue.

You will now listen to a conversation between Jill, a managing editor in an e-learning firm, and Michael, an associate in the company. As you hear the dialogue, try to identify at least three topics that Jill and Michael talk about that are not related to business.

 

BEP 90: Showing Empathy in Work Situations

14 May 2018

podcommunication

Introduction

Empathy is the ability to understand how someone else feels by imagining yourself in their position.

The ability to show empathy is a very important social skill in making and maintaining friendships. In business, too, it’s important to be able to show empathy with customers, clients and even co-workers, particularly when dealing with disputes, complaints and other negative situations.

You're much more likely to be able to resolve a problem with someone if you show them that you understand their position or how they feel.

Some people are naturally empathetic; others have to actively work on developing the skill. There are a number of useful techniques for showing empathy which we’ll look at in this podcast lesson.

Situation 1

In the following situation, Mary discusses a problem with her colleague, John.

 

BEP 91: Expressing Opinions and Agreement

02 May 2018

podcommunication

Introduction

We are often askedto give our opinion on various things at work. We also often ask for the opinion of colleagues and superiors.

Asking for and giving opinions is an important part of English, so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the language you will need to do this. You’ll also need to know how to respond when someone gives you their opinion. You can either agree or disagree, and within this you can choose to agree or disagree strongly or mildly. Subtle changes to the language you use will allow you to find the right level of agreement or disagreement.

In this podcast lesson, we’ll show you how to express an opinion and show agreement and disagreement through three short dialogues.

Situations

You’re now going to listen to three short dialogues. In each dialogue, you’ll hear people expressing their opinions and being asked about their opinions.

 

BEP 76: Conversation Techniques

18 Apr 2018

podcommunication

INTRODUCTION

In this podcast lesson, we’ll be looking at a number of useful techniques to help to you develop a conversation.

When you are taking part in a conversation the most important thing is to react to what the other person is saying. If you don’t react, the conversation is likely to end very quickly. Reacting helps to show that you are listening, you are interested in what the other person is saying and that you want to keep the conversation going.

We’ll demonstrate some basic conversation techniques through two dialogues. While you listen, make a mental note of the techniques used to keep the conversation going.

SITUATION 1

You're now going to listen to two conversations between Paul and Nancy. In the first conversation, make a note of what Nancy says in reaction to what Paul says and vice versa.

 

BEP 87: Criticizing Someone in the Right Way

04 Apr 2018

podcommunication

Introduction

We all make mistakes and learning how to correct them is an important part of doing business. But what about when other people make mistakes?

It’s a good idea to learn how to criticize in a professional manner without causing offence, especially if you're talking to an employee. There are ways of telling someone they didn’t do their work as completely, correctly or accurately as they might have.

In this podcast lesson we’ll focus on some techniques you can use to criticise in a way that won’t cause offence. We’ll also introduce you to some useful phrases to help you achieve this.

Situation

You’re now going to listen to a short dialogue. You’ll hear Mr Brown talking to Sandra, one of his employees, about some work she has done recently.

 

BEP 70: Handling Customer Complaints

20 Mar 2018



Introduction

When you speak on the telephone to customers, your voice represents your company to the caller. Without the benefit of using body language (handshakes, smiles, nodding your head, etc.), your tone of voice and customer service techniques are all you have to gain customer confidence.

You should always try to adopt a polite, friendly, helpful, efficient and professional tone when speaking on the telephone to customers. Using standard telephone expressions will make you sound polite and professional. Listening and taking the time to understand your customers will make you sound helpful and efficient.

Situation 1

DVD retailer, Music Box Ltd, have just received this letter of complaint from Albert Hui, one of their corporate customers. Read through the letter and consider how you would handle the complaint.

 

BEP 84: Business Small Talk - Discussing Routine and Recent Past

14 Mar 2018

small_talk

Introduction

Small talk is important because it helps to break the ice. Learn to engage in small talk at job interviews, sales meetings, or other business meetings and encounters.

If it doesn't come naturally to you, take a few minutes beforehand to think of a few topics. You can always talk about the weather! You can ask about a friend, colleague or acquaintance you both know. You can ask someone how long they have lived in the area. Just find something to talk about other than business.

In this podcast lesson, we'll listen in on two social/business encounters. The language in both is quite informal as you might expect in these situations.

Situation 1

You’re now going to hear a conversation between Mark and his boss, Ms Davis. Mark is late for work again and his boss isn't happy with him. Mark is able to use small talk and a bit of humour to soften a difficult situation.

 

BEP 78: Introducing Yourself at Work

15 Feb 2018

podcommunication

Introduction

Introducing yourself to a stranger for the first time can be difficult for some people. For outgoing people, starting a conversation with someone they have never met is usually easy. On the other hand, most people find it hard.

When you introduce yourself to someone at work for the first time, you have an advantage. You both work for the same company. You have something in common: something to talk about! And you’ve probably already seen each other around the place before.

There are a number of ways of making a self introduction. It usually needs to be on a case by case basis; however, here’s some basic advice to get someone’s attention and finally make an acquaintance.

• The direct approach works for most people who have the confidence to do so. Simply go up to the person whom you want to introduce yourself to. Say “hello,” offer a handshake and tell them your name. If, however, it is a group you are approaching, politely ask if you can join them.

• Giving a compliment is also a good tactic. Remember to give a compliment that you really mean. Sincerity is the key here. You can start the conversation with a statement like, “I like your shirt” or “You have a nice watch”. The other party can reply with a, “Thank you”. From that point, be prepared to talk about the object you are complimenting on to prove that you really admire it. After a minute or two, or when appropriate, start introducing yourself.

• Make a comment to someone about the situation you’re in or the environment. Once they’ve responded, introduce yourself.

• If the person you want to introduce yourself to is speaking to someone you already know, then take it as a chance to get acquainted. Walk towards them and say hello to your friend or the person you knew. An introduction can then follow naturally.

• If you want to introduce yourself to a person you only know by name, you can start a conversation by confirming their name - “Mr Reynolds?” Once you get their attention, continue by stating how you know about them and then introduce yourself.

With the right introduction, a good attitude, and confidence, you can find yourself creating a good impression and friendly relationships.

Situation 1

Peter Harvey and Sarah Rogers, who both work for the same multinational company in London, meet for the first time in the staff restaurant. Let’s hear how Peter first makes contact and then introduces himself to Sarah.

 

BEP 86: Telephone Communication Problems Part 2: An Unclear Message

18 Jan 2018

telephoning

Introduction

We’ve become creatures of telephone habits. Having made and received thousands of telephone calls in our lifetimes, it is easy to assume that we have reasonable telephone skills. Most people do not even think there are any special challenges of telephone communication.

When all parts of the communications process work effectively together, telephone communication is clear and useful. Sometimes, however, even a well-practiced communication process can go wrong. Problems can occur in any of the following four parts of sending a message:

  • Trouble sending: The sender doesn't speak clearly, speaks in a heavy accent or speaks too quickly. What happens to the message? Will it be received?
  • Trouble with the message content: The message is confusing, disorganized or irrational. Is it likely that the receiver will understand what is being communicated?
  • Trouble with the channel: There is background noise or a bad line. Will the message be transmitted effectively? Will it be received?
  • Trouble with the receiver: The receiver is not listening closely, has fallen asleep or is distracted. Will the message be understood?

In this podcast lesson, we’re going to focus on trouble with the message content, that is, the message is unclear and needs clarifying.

Situation

You’re now going to listen to Beatrice from Sterling Associates answer a call from Bill Rock, a colleague working in an overseas office of the company.

 

BEP 94: Complimenting Someone at Work

27 Dec 2017

podcommunication

Introduction

What is a compliment? If you say something nice about someone, that’s a compliment. You can “pay someone a compliment” by telling them how nice their new hairstyle or dress is, for example.

How often do you pay a compliment to your work colleagues? We all like to receive positive comments about how we look, but how you do it is important. To avoid making someone feel uncomfortable in a business or work situation, men should generally only compliment men, and women should stick to complimenting other women. This is especially true when commenting on someone’s appearance or clothes.

If you are complimenting someone on their work, performance, etc., then it’s acceptable to compliment the opposite sex. But beware, people who compliment too often are seen as being “phony” or fake, which is not a good thing.

Situations

You’re now going to listen to 9 short exchanges where you’ll hear people complimenting each other in workplace situations. After each exchange, you’ll hear our comments.

 
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