Workplace English Podcasts

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 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.

 

BEP 48: Sales - Pitching New Offers

06 Jun 2017

Introduction

When you call a customer on the telephone to makes a sales pitch, you are essentially cold calling, and the customer is not likely to know what your call is about until you explain why you are calling. It is important to explain and ask for the customer’s permission to continue with your pitch, but also to present the information in such a way that the customer agrees to hear you out. In this podcast lesson, we will look at a few ways to present your sales pitch in a manner that will help you to keep the customer’s attention and get a positive response.

Remember that the key to a successful sales pitch is to be persuasive in a way that does not sound aggressive. To do this, you should ensure that your tone is pleasant and conversational, but also informative. Asking relevant questions and paying attention to what the customer says can help you while making your sales pitch.

Situation

You’re now going to listen to a dialogue between Michael, a customer service executive at an electronics store, and Sarah, a customer who has purchased a computer from the store. Michael is calling Sarah to pitch a new offer for an extended warranty on her purchase.

 

BEP 62: Handling Serious Disagreement

10 May 2017

 Internal disputes may arise in your workplace when two people are hostile toward each other’s opinions, or if they cannot work out a disagreement. When handling a serious disagreement between two people, you should ensure that you listen to each person’s point of view, and try to arrive at a consensus that will be agreeable to both of them. You can do this by using sympathetic language that shows them both that you are respectful of their points of view. Try to find a consensus of opinion that is agreeable to both parties, and which shows them how to work out a compromise. Stress the fact that it is important to work out the dispute in a harmonious way so that their work does not suffer.

 

  SITUATION 1

You will now listen to a conversation in which James, a vice-president at an investment consultancy, tries to work out a dispute between Jack and Eliza, two project managers.

 

 

BEP 65: Discussing Someone's Performance

08 May 2017

 

Discussing someone’s performance refers to analysing their strengths and weaknesses. Managers often have to discuss the performance of those in their team. This is usually because a manager’s appraisal goes on an employee’s record and also helps to identify if an employee is ready for a promotion. When discussing someone’s performance, remember to keep the conversation professional. Focus on the person’s work-related skills, and not on his or her personal details or habits. Give reasons and examples to support your opinions, so that others know that you are not biased.

You may also have to discuss someone’s performance face-to-face with that person. In such a situation, you need to be a little more tactful and polite when talking about their skills, especially their weaknesses and the areas in which they need to improve. Even if you have something negative to say, you can put it across in positive terms. The second dialogue in today’s lesson will show you how you can do that.

Situation 1

You will now listen to a conversation between two managers, Jennifer and Andrew, who are discussing the performance of their team members Carolyn and Ling. They need to make a decision on which one to promote.

 

BEP 29: Cold Calling: Arranging Meetings

13 Feb 2017

Introduction

There are a number of ways in which cold calls can be effective. One is for the selling organization to start with a high quality, up-to-date database consisting of qualified potential clients that have an interest in the product being sold. Another is to use cold calls as a "step in the door". Rather than using the call to try to close a sale, it is used as the initial contact in a long-term relationship. This has the effect of removing the sales pressure from calls and making the goal of the call to build trust.

Situation

Salesman Kyle Brant calls two different companies for the first time to try to set up a sales meeting. Notice how he introduces himself. Notice also how he find his “way in,” his connection to make what he’s selling more appealing to the potential customer.

 

BEP 50: Business Meetings - Discussing Business Proposals

03 Feb 2017

A meeting to discuss a business proposal is usually an integral part of creating a business plan. While it is common for the proposal to be written by one person, it is also common for team members or prospective clients to be available during such meetings to give their opinions and input on what they feel should be changed or included. The person who has written the proposal should be prepared to answer questions on the content and should be open to the revisions that may be necessary.

The functional language involved in such a discussion focuses around two key areas. Firstly, we often find the conditional tense being used in such discussions, since the proposal has not been accepted yet. Secondly, auxiliary and modal verbs (also known as helping verbs) are commonly used along with words and phrases indicating personal opinions and suggestions as the speakers speculate about the future.  

An unsolicited proposal is one that is created by a small company or charitable organization that wants to collaborate with a larger firm to increase the scale of its activities, and that approaches larger firms independently with its proposed course of business.

In this dialogue, you will hear a conversation that two members of a non-governmental organization (NGO) have with a prospective charitable donor. Joyce has written the proposal and is discussing the details with her colleague, Nicholas, and the prospective donor, Michelle.

Before moving on to the listening exercise, read the outline of the proposal below.

 
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