Workplace English Podcasts

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 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 71: Telephoning - Finalizing Agreements

06 Apr 2016

telephoning

Introduction

Quite often in business, a deal can be concluded without having a face-to-face business meeting. Where the terms of a deal are not so complex, or a deal has already been partially reached, much of the final negotiation can be done over the phone. In more complex situations, however, face-to-face negotiations are usually necessary.

If you would like to change the terms of an existing agreement, before you make your call to finalize the agreement, you should be clear about your starting and finishing positions. Do the calculations in advance and work out what a satisfactory outcome to the negotiations would be for you. Be aware of all the factors that have an impact on the deal; in most cases there will be some flexibility with these factors.

Situation 

Jenny Bond of United Wholesalers in London has just received the following fax from Bernard Chan of NEG in Hong Kong. NEG supplies fork-lift trucks.

FAX

Re: Special Order of 20 Fork-lift Trucks

Dear Jenny

We regret that our standard vehicles are not suitable for your purpose, but confirm that we can manufacture to the specifications you have forwarded.

Unless you can increase your order from 20 vehicles, however, there will be a substantial charge for this service.

Please let us know if you would like to pursue the matter further.

Yours sincerely

International Sales Director
Bernard Chan

Jenny then telephones Bernard to see if he will accept an order of 25 trucks so they can finalise an agreement. Let’s listen in on their conversation.

 

BEP 28: Structuring a Business Presentation

23 Mar 2016

The introduction to a presentation is a very important - perhaps the most important part of the presentation. This is the first impression that your audience have of you. You should concentrate on getting your introduction right. You should use the introduction to:

  • welcome your audience
  • introduce your subject
  • outline the structure of your presentation, and
  • give instructions about questions

Let’s now look at some useful language you could use for the four parts of an introduction.

 

BEP42: Clarifying and Confirming Instructions

28 Feb 2016

When you’re given verbal instructions, it’s essential that you clarify anything you don’t understand or are unclear about. Even if you feel you’ve understood everything correctly, it’s a good idea to repeat back the instructions to whoever gave them to you to ensure that you haven’t misunderstood or missed anything. This will help to minimize any errors you might make whilst you are carrying out the instructions.

In this podcast lesson, you’re going to listen to two dialogues. In the first dialogue the instructions given are quite brief and straightforward. In this case, the listener waits until all the instructions have been given before making any clarifications. In the second dialogue, the instructions are longer and more detailed. In this dialogue, the listener clarifies the instructions at appropriate points while they are being given.

When listening to the dialogues, make a note of some of the common expressions used to clarify and confirm the instructions.

 

BEP 35: Avoiding Communication Problems at Work

29 Oct 2015

One of the most important things to remember about business communication is that it takes place among people and that everyone’s opinions and feelings should be seen as equally important if the communication process is to be successful. In this business speaking lesson, we focus on how to avoid misunderstandings by keeping communication open and smooth.

You will now listen to a conversation Susan has during a meeting with a client, represented by James and Michelle. They are about to complete a business deal that will allow Susan’s company, which deals in ceramic kitchen products, to supply goods on a regular basis to the chain of home stores.

 

BEP 09 - Reporting on Progress

14 Sep 2015

In meetings and teleconferences a common task is to update participants on the progress of a project or your area of responsibility. In this podcast lesson we focus on the verb tenses and language used in reporting on progress.

 

BEP 11: Handling Questions on the Phone

19 Jul 2015

telephoning

In this podcast lesson we are going to examine the different types of questions that are used to clarify details and handle enquiries on the phone.

Customers and colleagues call you with questions. To answer their questions or to address their needs, you need to ask questions, too. But, all questions are not created equal; to get the kind of response you want, you need to know how to choose the appropriate type of question to ask.

Using effective questioning techniques allows you to get information you need. It also helps you stay in control of the conversation.

Also, when you are confronted with difficult situations, the use of different types of questions will help diffuse the situation.

We're not going to look at the five main question types and the various situations where these questions can be used.

 
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