Workplace English Podcasts

BEP 88: Accepting and Refusing Business Invitations

30 Aug 2019

podcommunication

Introduction

Accepting an invitation is easy. Refusing an invitation is more difficult. In business situations, it’s particularly important to know how to refuse an invitation politely so you don’t cause offence to the person who is inviting you.

In this podcast lesson you’re going to learn how to make, accept and refuse invitations in a business setting.

Situation

You’re now going to listen to a short dialogue. Mary and David have just met each other at a business conference. During the conversation, Mary invites David to dinner.

 

BEP 75: Telephoning - Using Standard Phrases

06 Aug 2019

telephoning

Introduction

Making and receiving telephone calls is one of the hardest skills in English, especially for non-native speakers who often rely on non-verbal cues such as signs gestures and facial expressions to help their understanding.

In business situations, however, telephoning has a language of its own. We use standard phrases for every telephone function such as answering the phone, offering to help the caller, putting a caller on hold, taking a message, closing a call, etc.  Learning these phrases will help you not only better understand what the other person is saying, but also direct the telephone conversation so that you can communicate your message successfully and concisely. It’s a good idea for you to practice and becoming familiar with the most common standard telephone phrases.

In this podcast lesson, we’ll demonstrate the use of common standard telephone phrases through some short telephone conversations. Lynn is a receptionist at an international shipping company. You're going to listen to her take four routine calls.

 

BEP 95: Speculating About the Present

25 Jul 2019

podcommunication

Introduction

Speculating means guessing. When we make a guess about something, we may have some additional information which helps us to guess more accurately and with some degree of certainty. On the other hand, we may not have this information and in such cases our guess will be more uncertain.

Modal verbs allow us to speculate about past, present and future events. The modal verb you use depends upon how certain or uncertain you are. In this review we shall focus on speculating about present situations. When speculating, you should consider carefully the grammatical structures used. A review of the language focus page is recommended.

In this podcast lesson we shall focus on speculating about present or current situations using modal verbs.

Situation

You’re now going to listen to a conversation between Ben and Jenny. Ben wants to talk to Jenny about her job and her future in the company.

 

BEP 52: Chairing a Business Meeting

11 Jul 2019

Most formal business meetings are chaired by an individual who structures the meeting and ensures that different roles are assigned to the participants in the meeting. The chairperson also manages the opening and closing remarks of the meeting, which are both essential to the outcome of the discussion. Chairing a meeting involves knowing how to make remarks and comments at the right times, getting the conversation back on track if any deviates, and making opening and closing remarks that emphasise the main points of the discussion.

Usually, it is only formal business meetings which are chaired, which means that the chairperson’s language also has to be more or less formal in nature. The language and usage of expressions depend on what kind of meeting is being chaired. Business meetings that are internal to a company can utilize more informal language, while meetings in which clients are present are usually more formally organised and conducted.

In this podcast lesson, we will examine the usage of language expressions in six different aspects of chairing a business meeting.

 

BEP 06 - Business Communication - Saying Goodbye

25 Jun 2019

In this podcast lesson, we'll be looking at some of the phrases you can use when you're saying goodbye to someone - either for a short time, or for a long time.

In our example, Victor is from another country, and he's about to go back home. At a conference, he meets Sam and Lin.

After completing all the listening and language exercises, you can download the podcast which includes the dialogues as well as detailed explanations of all the language points.

 

BEP 37: Wrapping Up a Business Presentation

30 May 2019

Presentations are an important aspect of working in a business environment. Since they give you an opportunity to showcase your abilities and thoughts, they should be planned well and organized in such a way that your main points are highlighted constantly. One of the best ways to do this is to end your presentation effectively. Remember, audiences tend to remember best what they hear last! An effective conclusion can help your listeners to quickly recollect your main points, and also set the stage for a discussion on the topic you have covered.

Here are some points to keep in mind for an effective conclusion to a presentation:

  • Always provide a brief summary of your main points (no more than two to three sentences).

  • Include recommendations for further research or exploration if possible.

  • End by checking with your audience if they need clarifications, or if they have any comments or questions.

Situation

You are now going to listen to a conversation with three participants. Tara is a language trainer at a large company. She has just completed a presentation on issues which need to be addressed by the company’s training department in the coming month. Alex and Rebecca are members of Tara’s team who ask her for clarifications.

 

BEP 21: Taking Telephone Messages

21 May 2019

Taking telephone messages well is a skill that saves time for both the caller and the receiver.

If you need to take a message for someone, get as much information as possible. Always include:

  • The date and time of the call.
  • The full name of the person calling (ask for correct spelling).
  • The company the caller is from.
  • The phone number and time available for callback.
  • The purpose of the call.

Give enough information to the caller so they know what to expect, such as when the person they are trying to reach will return.

 

BEP 24: Expressing Agreement and Disagreement

28 Apr 2019

Whenever people work together, there is always a possibility of disagreement. It’s usually fine to tell friends bluntly that you disagree with them. But in business, we have to be quite careful about how we disagree. It’s not that we can’t do it, but that we have to do it in ways that won’t cause offence. We have to disagree indirectly.

In this podcast lesson, we’ll be reviewing the language used to disagree politely with someone.

 

BEP 83: Expressing the Future and Future Certainty

29 Mar 2019

podcommunication

Introduction

In this podcast lesson, we’re going to look at how people talk about future events. We’re also going to look at how to express future certainty, that is, to say how likely something will happen in the future.

What is the difference in usage between the future simple ‘will’ and ‘going to’? Many native English speakers would have problems answering this question in a grammatical sense, but they would automatically know how to use both future forms in conversation. In the lesson, we’ll make clear the difference between them.

Although seldom used by learners of English, native English speakers commonly use the present continuous tense to talk about the future. Seems strange to use a present tense for this purpose, but in certain contexts, it’s the right thing to do.

Three common verbs are also used to express the future: ‘plan,’ ‘intend,’ and ‘expect.’ We’ll show you how to use these verbs correctly in the right context.

And finally, we’ll show you how to talk about a future event in varying degrees of certainty.

Situation

Merta Motorparts, is going through a merger and, as a result, many changes are being planned in order to prepare the company for their new owners. Listen in as three employees from the Finance Department discuss some of the changes and how these changes will affect them.

Notice the use of “will,” “going to,” and verbs such as “plan,” “expect” and “intend” to talk about the future. Notice also how the speakers speculate about the future, i.e. say how likely a future event will happen, using words such as “probably,” “likely,” “possibly,” etc.

 

BEP 12 - Telephone Talk - Sales Techniques

22 Mar 2019

Telephone selling forms a major part of many companies’ sales strategy. Some people find the technique comes naturally but for others it is very difficult and they need to make a conscious effort to develop the necessary skills.

In this podcast lesson we present you with two telephone dialogues showing the right way and the wrong way to handle this type of call.

 

BEP 45: Business Meetings - Making Plans

07 Mar 2019

In planning a business event such as a conference, the type of language that we use commonly includes verbs which refer to the future. In this podcast, we will see how the future simple tense, ‘will,’ ‘going to’ and the present continuous tense can be used to refer to future actions. We will also look at examples of how modal verbs can be used in discussing business plans.

During the course of planning a business conference or workshop, we often need more than one meeting to plan the event. In this podcast lesson, we will listen to extracts from two meetings, one to plan a business conference and the other to discuss and assign specific tasks.

 

BEP 33: Dealing with Hostile Situations at Work

12 Feb 2019

Introduction

Conflicts between people are always going to happen. This is true for family relations as well as for workplace relations. Fortunately, most conflicts can be resolved. Patience is needed; so is a willingness to listen. And, of course, using the right words is critical. The English language has more than a million words. With some effort, you can find the right ones

Situation

Listen now to an exchange between Joe, the manager, and his subordinate Sally. Joe has generally tried to avoid encounters with her. He believes she has a hot temper and he doesn’t want to enflame it. This time, however, he has received a complaint from Rose, the project manager. And Joe must deal with the situation.

 

BEP 25: Communicating Action

23 Jan 2019

When a company moves to a new site it is known as ‘relocation’. This is a big decision, involving everyone connected with the company – staff, customers, suppliers and shareholders. It also affects the families, friends and communities of the people involved with the company.

Once the research into possible locations has been completed, an organisation must decide which relocation option is the most suitable, inform staff and plan the next stages of the operation.

After consulting staff about the options for relocation a final decision has to be taken and everyone informed. A number of things then have to be done to organise the relocation and for this an action plan has to be drawn up.

In this podcast lesson you will practise expressing action points, summarising information and informing colleagues of plans.

First listen to an extract from a business meeting about what has been decided about relocating the company to Bilton Oaks. Diana Riggs is chairing the meeting and the extract begins with her speaking. An action plan is also discussed, which involves assigning specific tasks to people.

 

BEP26: Dealing with Angry Customers

08 Jan 2019

We all deal with angry customers, and it's enough to drive people crazy. Angry and difficult customers are a major cause of workplace stress, and they take up huge amounts of your time and the resources of your organization. There are a lot of tricks and techniques you can use to deal with an angry customer. For now, let's focus on the most common mistake employees make when dealing with the difficult or angry customer. By avoiding this particular error, you can save yourself a lot of stress and time.

 

The #1 Mistake

 

When you are faced with an angry customer, you probably assume that the customer wants his or her "problem" fixed. That's a logical approach and it's at least partly true. Angry customers expect that you will be able to help them in some concrete way, by meeting their want or need. However, there's more to the story.

 

Ever notice that with a really angry person, even if you can "fix" the problem, the person still acts in angry or nasty ways? Why is that? Well, actually angry customers want several things. Yes, they want the problem fixed, but they also want to BE HEARD, TO BE LISTENED TO, and to have their upset and emotional state recognized and acknowledged.

 

What most employees do with angry customers is move immediately to solve the problem without giving that acknowledgment. Do you know what happens? The customer is so angry that he or she isn't prepared to work to solve the problem, doesn't listen, and gets in the way of solving the problem. So the number one error is moving to solve the problem before the customer is "ready", or calm enough to work with the employee. The result is the employee has to repeat things over and over (since the customer didn't hear), and has to ask the same questions over and over. And that's what drives people nuts.

 

The Solution

 

The solution is to follow this general rule: When faced with an angry customer, FIRST focus on acknowledging the feelings and upset of the customer. Once the customer starts to calm down as a result of having his or her feelings recognized, THEN move to solving the problem. You'll find that this will save you a lot of time and energy.

 

Situation 1

 

Here’s an example of a type of customer that is really feared. Now you’ll recognise Mr Tiger all right. In our example he’s turned up to the bank where Cathy works. As always, he’s angry. He’s been waiting about for nearly ten minutes. He may also have had a particularly bad day so far and wants any excuse to turn his anger on someone else. Let’s see how Cathy deals with him.

 

BEP 77: Strategy for Customer Service

26 Dec 2018

podcommunication

Introduction

Rule 1: The customer is always right.
Rule 2: If the customer is wrong, rule 1 applies.

It is said that for every person who complains, there are 26 other people who suffer in silence, and each unhappy customer tells 10 to 16 other people. But if you address the problem in the right way, 90 per cent of the complainers will do business with you again. When people complain, they are usually angry or upset. This can be difficult to handle in a second language.

In this podcast lesson, we’re going to look at how the same customer complaint is dealt with in two completely different ways. One will be the right way and the other, the wrong way.

After you’ve finished listening to this lesson, make sure you review our study notes on a six-stage customer service strategy. You can apply this strategy to most customer service situations where you need to handle a face-to-face customer problem.

Situation 1

You're now going to listen to a conversation between a bank teller and a customer who has a complaint about the bank’s service.

 

 
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