Workplace English Podcasts

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.

 

BEP 61: Telephoning - Handling Enquiries and Requests

26 Nov 2017

In this podcast lesson, we’re going to look at how to respond to telephone enquiries, and how to handle requests from callers.

To respond properly to enquiries, you should be able to answer the caller’s questions and give them the information they are looking for. To handle requests, you should be able to tell the caller what you will do to fulfill their request, and when you will do it.

We will also look at what you can say when you are unable to help callers fulfill their requests.

To handle enquiries or deal with requests in a polite and efficient manner, it’s a good idea to become familiar with some common functional expressions. We’ll introduce you to some of these expressions in the lesson.

Situation 1

Anna is a sales executive at a showroom which sells cameras. Let’s listen to how she handles a telephone call from Daniel, a caller who has an enquiry and a request.

 

BEP 19 - Chasing Up Payment by Telephone

04 Nov 2017
 

As anyone working in business knows, getting people to pay their bills on time is not always easy. Often, other companies, suppliers and retailers don’t pay because of filing or communication errors—with thousands of bills, invoices, receipts and statements in a typical accountant’s office, this is no surprise. Other times, though, we have to deal with those who either are unwilling or unable to pay their bills on time. It’s very important, in all the situations above, that we maintain our professional language, even when dealing with impolite clients or customers.

The Situation

Peter Mann is a new collections agent at a coffee supply company. His first task is to chase up two overdue accounts and get a commitment from each shop to catch up with or settle their account balances as soon as possible.

Peter calls two customers, both of whom haven’t paid their bills. Peter’s aim is clear: get his customers to pay the amount owed as soon as possible. How does he do this? Pay close attention to the language that Peter uses: he is firm, but also professional. What words and phrases does he use in order to remain professional, but to communicate that he expects payment soon?

Let’s listen in as he calls each company.

 

BEP 02 - How to Lead a Meeting

28 Oct 2017

This podcast is from the beginning and end of a meeting held to discuss some urgent building work at a factory. It’s going to be run in a more formal style with firm direction from the chairperson because it involves making a decision about an expensive investment.

Other types of meetings that benefit from having someone to lead the discussion are Teleconferences – having a chairperson can help make sure people speak in turn rather than all at once!

 

BEP 36: Talking about your Company and Work

04 Oct 2017

Meeting new people is an important part of working in a business environment. The contacts we make on an everyday basis help us to expand our knowledge about our business and create a network of people who we can turn to for help or advice with our work-related concerns.

You are now going to listen to a dialogue between two people from different companies who meet for the first time at a business conference. Note how they talk about their companies and the roles they play at their places of work. Sally is a senior manager with an e-publishing company and Josh is a project manager with a similar company. Josh has just given a presentation on the latest venture that his company is going to be involved in. Sally approaches him during a coffee break.

 

BEP 04 - Business Negotiations - General Skills

26 Sep 2017

In this podcast we’re looking at negotiating. A negotiation is a discussion that should result in an agreement or business contract. The discussion is usually between two parties - or organisations - trying to reach an agreement satisfactory to both.
Here we'll just look at some of the general skills needed when negotiating and some of the key language used.
 

BEP 64: Dealing with Persistent Callers

07 Sep 2017

Persistent callers are people who keep calling until they can speak to a certain person. It may be your job to answer the phone and speak several times to the same caller. The caller may be trying to sell something, or may want to talk to someone in your office for a specific reason.

Even if the same person calls many times, you should speak to them politely but firmly. There are many ways in which you can politely tell a caller that they do not need to call again, or that they can leave a message for the recipient

In this lesson, we will look at how to use specific words and phrases to deal with persistent callers.

Remember that you need to remain polite and patient while talking to callers, even if they call many times.


Situation 1

You will now listen to a conversation between Sandra, a secretary, and Paul, a persistent caller.

 

BEP32: Small Talk Before a Business Meeting

07 Aug 2017

“Results depend on relationships. That’s what Don Petersen says. He is the ex-CEO of America’s Ford Motor Company. You will find that being able to make small talk—especially before a business meeting—will help build good relationships. And, good business relationships will help you get the results you want. Think of small talk as an engraved business card: small but impressive. Impressive, that is, if you do it well.

SITUATION 1

Listen now to small talk used by Dan, who is about to make a presentation featuring his leadership training firm. He especially wants to win approval from Susan Lynch, head of employee relations for a multinational firm. Pay attention to Dan’s manner and manners as well.

 

BEP 82: Small Talk - Discussing a Colleague

09 Jul 2017

small_talk

Introduction

Small talk is essential in business. Whether you’re speaking to a colleague, a client or a customer, a little social chat will help to strengthen the relationship you have with them.

Small talk doesn’t need to be limited to informal situations such as over lunch or dinner. It is most effectively used when meeting someone for the first time, before and after formal meetings and even at the start of business telephone conversations. In these situations, the main purpose of the small talk is to break the ice and help create a more relaxed atmosphere.

In this podcast lesson, you’re going to hear a rather informal conversation between colleagues. The conversation never gets too informal, like it would between close friends; however, the language used is quite colloquial at times. Later on, we’ll look at some of the more informal language and show you how to use it in different contexts.

Situation 

Richard Bent and Cristine Keen are work colleagues. They are having lunch near their office and are discussing the situation related to the new accountant in their department.

 
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