Workplace English Podcasts

BEP 77: Strategy for Customer Service

26 Dec 2018



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.



BEP 93: Ending a Conversation Politely

13 Dec 2018



You might think that ending a conversation is as simple as saying “Goodbye,” but it’s a little more complex than that. It’s also quite different from culture to culture. In western culture, we inform the person we are talking to gently by giving hints that we need to go or want the conversation to end. We try our best to avoid ending a conversation abruptly.

Certain phrases are used to indicate that someone has to go or would like to end a conversation. To end a conversation politely is quite a difficult skill to master, actually!

In this podcast lesson, we’ll show you how to end a conversation politely according to western culture.


You’re now going to hear a conversation between John and Naomi. They’ve just come out of a conference.


BEP 13 - Expressing Likes, Dislikes and Preferences

04 Dec 2018


In this month's business speaking skills topic we’re going to be looking a various ways of expressing likes, dislikes and preferences. It is very easy to simply say ‘I like’ or ‘I don’t like’ something, but it is more difficult to state by what degree you like or dislike it. And, it’s often not just a question of directly stating how you feel about something. In many situations you’ll have to be careful about your tone – how direct or indirect your language is. Stating dislikes and preferences too directly can sometimes cause offence. You’ll need to consider who you’re speaking to and the context of the situation when choosing your words


Annie Dawson, a web designer at, an online book company, has been requested by her boss, Philip Telford, to create a website for the company’s new line of books. Since the books are educational, as well as entertaining, Philip really wants a visually appealing website which can capture the feeling of the company’s new line of books and, therefore, bring success to the new line.

You're going to listen to Annie presenting her draft website designs to her boss, Philip, to get his feedback.


BEP 57: Showing a Visitor Around

13 Nov 2018


Showing a visitor around gives you a good chance to make a positive impression on your client. By welcoming a visitor warmly and talking to them clearly and politely about your firm, you can help to create a good business relationship between your company and your visitor’s. In this lesson, we’ll focus on how to make a visitor to your office feel welcome, and on language you can use to describe your building and your company. The use of correct tenses and the passive voice can be very important when showing a visitor around.


In this situation, you will find Kate, a manager at a design firm, talking to Tom, a client from an architectural company who is visiting her office. You will hear how Kate welcomes Tom and makes him feel comfortable. Then you will listen to how she shows him around the office and tells him about her company. She also listens carefully to his questions and uses different tenses while talking to him about different ways of working.


BEP 63: Business Presentations - Referring to Visual Aids

29 Oct 2018

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is certainly true of business presentations in which a graph, table or image can present a clear picture of what you want to say. Many people find it easier to understand information when it is presented visually, and visual aids are essential to most business presentations.

To create an effective presentation, it is important to strike the right balance between text and graphics. Text should be brief, and organised into bullet points for easier reading. You should use a combination of different kinds of graphics, such as images, graphs and pie diagrams, to keep your audience’s attention.

Every image or graph should be relevant to your topic. Never use an image just to brighten up your presentation.

You should also familiarise yourself with the operating system and projector well before your presentation, so that you do not have any technical difficulties during your presentation.

In this lesson, we will listen to two presentations where the speakers use visual aids to enhance the effect of what they are saying.

Situation 1

You will now listen to a presentation on product training made by Susan, who works as a trainer at an insurance company. Susan makes use of several visual aids during her talk on training needs assessments for a new product that is to be launched by her company.


BEP 43: Business Meetings - Interrupting Effectively

28 Oct 2018

Interrupting may sound like an impolite aspect of conversation, but it can be effective if it is done with politeness and skill. Interrupting may be preceded by non–intrusive gestures such as lifting your hand so that the person speaking is not caught by surprise. People speaking in meetings often tend to get carried away with what they are saying and may not know when to stop, so it is perfectly acceptable to interrupt someone if you need to make a point or ask a question.

In this podcast lesson you’re going to hear examples of effective as well as ineffective interruptions. You will also be introduced to the INSET technique for interrupting in business meetings. Understanding and applying this technique will make you a better contributor in your workplace meetings.

Situation 1

In the first dialogue Andrew, Elsa and Brad discuss arrangements for an upcoming marketing tour. Focus on how each person interrupts another while they’re talking. Do you think these interruptions are effective?


BEP 20 - Employment Interview Techniques

28 Oct 2018

In this podcast lesson you're going to listen to an employment interview. Pay close attention to the questions asked by the interviewer – he uses a range of common interview question types.


Vivian Ren is a Human Resources Assistant Manager for a large international accounting company; she has been looking for a new position as she feels her current job isn't challenging enough after being in the position for over eight years. She has been asked to an interview by a large airlines company for the Head of the Human Resources.


BEP 15: Business Meetings - Developing and Argument Part 1

18 Sep 2018

In business meetings, you may often need to argue that something needs to be done, undone, changed, etc. And to be taken seriously, you’ll need to clearly explain your argument in order for it to be accepted. You’ll also need to know how to respond to questions and criticism, especially if you haven't made your case clearly and backed it up with facts, figures and logical reasoning.


BEP 60: Explaining a Company's Organisation

22 Aug 2018

When you meet clients at the workplace or talk to people at presentations, meetings and conferences, you may have to talk about your company. Apart from explaining how your company is organised, you should also be able to describe your company’s operations.

In this lesson, we will show you how to talk about your company, and how to answer questions about your company.

Two of the most important language points when talking about your company are the correct usage of verb tenses and the passive voice. You will need to use a variety of verb tenses to talk about the past, present and future of your company. You’ll also need to use the passive voice when talking about your company’s organisation and structure.


You will now listen to a brief presentation that George makes about his company which sells car accessories. George is making a presentation in which he needs to talk about his company. He is talking to a few representatives from a firm that is interested in doing business with his company, so it is important for George to make a good impression.


BEP 80: Passing on Telephone Messages to Clients

06 Aug 2018



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



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?


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



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.


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


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!


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

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.