Workplace English Podcasts

BEP 95: Speculating About the Present

03 Dec 2016

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 69: Making Future Plans

26 Nov 2016

Introduction

In this podcast lesson, we’re going to listen in on a business meeting where colleagues are making plans for the future.

We’re going to focus on three main areas of language in this lesson. First, we show you how to ask for and give opinions and we’ll point out the difference between opinions and suggestions, which are often confused. Second, we’ll show you how to make simple suggestions using common functional expressions. And finally, we’ll show you how to make plans using the future simple tense ‘will’ and ‘going to.’ ‘Will’ and ‘going to’ are also often confused. They have similar, yet slightly different uses. We’ll make the differences between these two future forms clear.

Situation 1

You're now going to listen to two colleagues, Liz and Sam, having a short business meeting. They are meeting to discuss the details of a new company newsletter. Here they discuss the aim of the newsletter and possible content.

 

BEP 54: Resolving Internal Conflicts

11 Nov 2016

Internal conflicts can arise in the workplace about commonplace issues when employees feel that their expectations are not being met. There may be many reasons for an employee feeling dissatisfied or unhappy, and if such issues are not resolved, they can create a bad atmosphere in the workplace. Communication is an important aspect of expressing and identifying needs, and of resolving them before they grow into larger problems.

Clear communication regarding conflict in the workplace is a two-way process in which both parties express their concerns and pay attention to each other’s points of view to ensure that they communicate efficiently. The key to effective communication in the resolution of conflicts in the workplace is to keep emotions out of the zone of communication as far as possible, and to focus on the practical aspects of the conflict in order to resolve it successfully.

It’s always important to consider the point of view of the other party and to ensure that you communicate to the other person that you are able to appreciate their point of view on the situation.

Keep in mind also that conflict can often be resolved in informal situations such as a conversation during a coffee break, and not necessarily during a meeting.

In this lesson, we will focus on three key areas of conflict resolution: empathizing with the other person’s concerns, clarifying their position, and making practical suggestions to work out the problem.

You will now listen to a dialogue between Jack and his manager Anna, who are making small talk before a business meeting. During the course of the conversation, Jack asks Anna about the status of his application for a transfer to a different city.

 

BEP30: Being Assertive and Standing your Ground

03 Nov 2016

Although it’s not the same in all business cultures, standing up for yourself, or being assertive, is an important communication skill in Western business culture. You’re more likely to get respect from your colleagues and superiors if you stand up for what you believe in, especially if you can back up your argument or request with real facts and figures.

Being overly assertive or inflexible can cause problems, however, so learning how to achieve a balance is important. Each situation you encounter needs careful thought and planning. Don’t rush into situations where you could weaken your relationship with others or weaken your position within the company.

The following two dialogues demonstrate how standing your ground can work—and how it can sometimes backfire.

SITUATION 1

Conflicts at work can occur for many different reasons. Sometimes, more senior members of staff expect newer members of staff to treat them with respect, even when the newer members may be more talented or skilled than they are. This is the basic theme of the first dialogue.

Let’s now listen in as Nancy, a senior stock trader, talks to Jason, a recently-employed junior trader. It seems that Nancy and her colleagues are not very happy with Jason’s attitude towards them.

 

BEP 47: Business Presentations - Handling Questions

05 Oct 2016

At some point in your presentation you will be expected to answer questions from your audience. They might have some important questions that need to be answered before they buy into your message. Handling their questions with authority can make the difference for you between a successful presentation and a waste of time. This is the opportunity for the audience to test your knowledge on the topic and commitment to your message.

To some people the question-and-answer session can be the most exciting part of the presentation. To others it can be their worst nightmare simply because they have to speak on the spot without notes. In fact, there are some presenters who purposely avoid the question-and-answer session all together.

In this podcast lesson, you’re going to listen to the final part of two business presentations. You decide whether the presenters handled the question and answer sessions with authority.

 

BEP27: Business Small Talk - Discussing Attitude and Performance

22 Sep 2016

small_talk

There is a time and a place to talk about employee attitude and performance. Often this is done in an informal situation, sometimes when a manager is new or is taking over a team of new employees. There are many ways of discussing employees and how they are performing.

Let’s listen in as Darlene, the department manager, and her assistant, Richard, discuss a number of employees.

 

BEP 37: Wrapping Up a Business Presentation

03 Sep 2016

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 96: Speculating About the Past

22 Aug 2016

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. 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 past situations using modal verbs.

Situation

You’re now going to listen to a conversation between John and Mary. John asks Mary for help in understanding the client files of a colleague who has recently left the company.

 

BEP 34: Making Persuasive Arguments

04 Aug 2016

When you think about it, so much of business involves influencing others. Sometimes, the influence effort is effort-less. On other occasions, though, you will encounter objections. In this podcast, you will hear techniques that work, that help you get your message across. They will make your job of persuading others easier. Basically, when presenting an argument the recommendations are:

1.     Remain professional at all times.
2.     Restate the comment.
3.     Convert the objection to a question, if possible.
4.     Turn the objection around.
5.     Cite research.
6.     Anticipate objections.
7.     Involve others.

In the two situations that we’re going to look at, we’ll see how these recommendations are put into action.
 

BEP 67: Saying 'No' in the Right Way

22 Jul 2016

Introduction

Most of us find it difficult to say ‘no’ when someone asks us for a favour, don’t we? It’s difficult to say ‘no’ when you know someone needs your help. It becomes even more difficult to say ‘no’ in the workplace, because you don’t want to offend anyone. However, it’s possible to refuse to do something in a polite and nice way that does not annoy anyone, hurt their feelings or cause offence.

In this lesson, we will look at how to say ‘no’ in the workplace in a way that ensures that the other person can see your point of view. You can do this by speaking factually, firmly and using a calm and polite tone.

Situation 1

You will now listen to two versions of a conversation between Jim and his boss. In the first version, Jim is not able to say ‘no’, and ends up having to do the favour and also make his boss feel that he is doing it unwillingly.

 

BEP 49: Business Negotiations - Concluding a Deal

21 Jul 2016

Concluding a deal is the final part of a business negotiation, and often takes place after several talks and discussions have been held to negotiate every aspect of the deal. Participating in the conclusion of the deal usually means that you have been present at earlier discussions, or are familiar with the possibilities that have already been discussed. While concluding the deal, both parties are aware of each other’s positions and no new conditions are usually applied. The final discussion is conducted in a positive style because each stakeholder wants to get his or her conditions accepted without making the other feel defeated, which may lead to the deal not being signed at all.

In this lesson, we will examine two different deal conclusions, one which is accepted and another which is rejected. In each case, we see that there is a service or goods provider and buyer. Apart from price, there are other factors such as delivery dates, quantities, and other product or service details that are finalized at the conclusion of each deal.

Situation

You will now listen to a dialogue between Susan, the owner of a clothing store, and Brian, who represents a design store. Susan and Brian are concluding a deal their companies have been negotiating over the past few weeks.

 

BEP 66: Telephoning - Dealing with Persistent Callers

05 Jul 2016

Introduction

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

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

 

BEP 03 - Controlling Business Meetings and Expressing Opinions

01 Jul 2016

In meetings, especially formal meetings, it's important to keep the discussion relevant, and to the point. So we're looking at some words and phrases that a Chairperson might use to stop irrelevant discussion and interruptions. We're also looking at ways of stating an opinion, and agreeing or disagreeing.
 

BEP 79: Small Talk with Colleagues

02 Jun 2016

small_talk

Introduction

Many of you will be working for international companies where you come into daily contact with foreigners, some of whom will be native English speakers. 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

Marcel and Donna, two colleagues at AEN Publicity, are chatting at the water-cooler. They don’t really know each other very well, but are quite happy to exchange a few words. The conversation is very informal so you may come across some interesting new words and expressions.

 

BEP 83: Expressing the Future and Future Certainty

10 May 2016

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.

 
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