Do you need English for work? Many companies around the world have international offices and clients, and so the main language of communication is English. Which type of communication is the most difficult? Many language learners feel that it is more difficult to speak on the phone in English than writing emails. They can also find it more challenging to understand native speakers who speak English naturally. This is often because they speak faster and use a wider variety of business idioms and expressions.
Therefore, the best strategy is to develop business English vocabulary. We have already introduced ten business idioms (in part 1 and part 2) which are commonly used in a work environment. Today, we are looking at 5 more idioms with examples to improve English speaking at work.
Can you guess the meaning of these business idioms?
Here is a discussion between a company director, Justine, and a project manager, Diana. They are native English speakers from the UK and work at a financial company in London. They are speaking on the phone about something that needs to be completed soon, and they use several English idioms.
We recommend that you just read the text quickly to get a general outline of their conversation. Then you can read again to get a better understanding of new words and expressions. There are business idioms in bold, and you should try to guess what they mean from the situation in the text. We also give definitions and more examples after the conversation.
Justine calls Diana
Hello Diana. How are you today?
Hello Justine. I’m doing well thanks. How about you?
I’m really busy, but having a great week too thanks. I was phoning to discuss the yearly accounts, because we have a tight deadline. Your team may need to work overtime to make sure that everything is submitted in the next two weeks.
I know what you mean, and I’m on the same page. Actually, I’ve already spoken to them, and they fully understand how important it is to get everything done before the deadline. There’s going to be a combination of starting early and leaving late so that everything is completed.
That’s good to hear and I appreciate that there is a lot of things happening behind the scenes to make this possible.
Thanks, and I’ll keep you updated. Also, did you see the email that I sent with recommendations for our procedures next year? I’ve outlined a few changes that we could make, and explained how it would be beneficial to invest in some new software. I truly believe that this will enable us to raise the bar with our services in the future.
Yes, I had a look this morning and think that you’ve hit the nail on the head. If we implement your recommendations, then we should not have the same problems next year. How did you hear about this particular company for the software upgrade?
Mainly by word of mouth. At the last business conference, I heard a lot of positive comments about what the software can do, and then I did some research online.
Well, let’s get the accounts submitted, and then we can decide everything else in a couple of weeks.
Great, I look forward to it.
Definitions and examples to develop business English vocabulary
Were you able to understand the business idioms in bold that were used in the discussion? Did you try to work out the meaning from the conversation? Here are our definitions and example of the idioms.
1. on the same page
to be in agreement or thinking in a similar way
We made a proposal to expand globally and the CEO is on the same page.
2. behind the scenes
describes things that happen which the public don't know about or see directly
We gave a successful presentation and I need to thank all those behind the scenes.
3. raise the bar
to increase standards or quality in something
Mobile phone manufacturers raise the bar every year with their new products.
4. hit the nail on the head
to be exactly right when you describe something (e.g. the reason for a problem)
You've hit the nail on the head regarding what has caused our drop in sales.
5. word of mouth
to communicate or tell people about something verbally (not in writing)
I often learn about new companies by word of mouth. I think word-of-mouth recommendations can be more successful than advertising.
Don't forget to practise!
It is clearly an advantage to develop business English vocabulary. This helps to understand native level speakers who can speak English naturally. However, language learning is always more successful when you practise as much as possible. We also provide English targets to study at home, and recommend English courses with professional teachers to improve English skills more rapidly. Good luck!
For regular updates and more business idioms, please visit our directory of business idioms.