To me, Business English doesn’t just mean the technical words and vocabulary you use when talking about business subjects, it also means how you phrase things, and understanding the cultural manner and body language you need to use.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, first impressions are important. It takes a lot of work to undo a bad first impression. Here are 4 ways to make a bad first impression:
1. Don’t Speak Clearly
You might at this point say to me ” yes, well that’s obvious.” What I find interesting is that time and time again, people who are unclear in English don’t realise how much this disadvantages them. One of the fastest ways to make a bad first impression in a business situation, using business English, is to be unclear. Let’s say you are trying to give instructions, or trying to use Business English to give a presentation, or need to use Business English in a meeting- it is much harder for people to hear your message and relate to it (and you), if they are busy trying to understand what you are saying.
Clear speech doesn’t happen overnight but it doesn’t have to be hard work either.
Tip: Practise your pronunciation for just 15 minutes a day and you will already sound clearer after just a couple of weeks – it won’t even feel like hard work, (especially if you use the special training technique in my courses here!)
2. Don’t learn the way Business English is phrased
Beside the actual technical terms used in your industry, it is important to listen to your colleagues and notice how they phrase things and what sort of abbreviations they use. For example, do they use the whole word when referring to superannuation or just say ‘super’. Also using more general phraseology like ” can I have a word?’ when you want to speak to someone in private, or “going forward” meaning looking to the future. For lots more of these have a look at my British Business English e-book here which is included in the Ultimate British Accent Package:
3. Don’t Smile or Look People In the Eyes
As I said before, not only are the words you use for Business English important, but also the body language is very important. 80% of what we communicate is non-verbal and taken from our body language.
When you speak to native English speaking clients, customers, colleagues or your boss, it makes a difference if you smile and look them in the eyes. Of course I don’t mean that you stare at them, or have to smile all the time you are talking, but these things signify that you are approachable, open and friendly. These are important elements looked for as part of being able to work in a team. Even if you are working as an accountant for instance, speaking to native English speaking clients, these elements are important.
4. Don’t Pay Attention to ‘Polite’ language
Ok so what do I mean by this? Native English speakers in any situation, and especially in a business situation, will be more open to you if you use what is considered ‘polite’ language. Words and phrases like ‘please, thank you, can I help you etc’ are important.
For example, if you are holding a meeting, as people come in, you can make them feel welcome by saying “Hello, come in. Please sit down.” If you need to interrupt someone in the meeting you could say something like “Sorry to interrupt, John, I’ve got a question.”
If you are answering a phone in an office or business and are asked to go and look something up, don’t just go off without first saying: “I won’t be long, I’ll just go and get that information for you.”
Again there are many more examples of real business English dialogues in the e-book I mentioned above.
Here are some excerpts from sample dialogues from my e-book for you below:-
MAKING A CALL
The following examples are all ways to introduce yourself over the telephone. The variations depend on whether you know the name of the person you’re trying to contact and the size of the company (if known.) It’s best to ask for the person to whom you wish to speak first, and then give your own name and the name of the company you’re calling from. If you give your name first, you will often be asked for it again before the telephonist transfers your call to the person you want to speak to.
If you don’t know the name of the person you’re trying to contact:
Julia: “Hello, is it possible to speak to someone in your marketing department please? My name is Julia Brown and I’m calling from ABC Commercial.”
If you know the name of the person and it’s a very large company:
Julia: “Hello, it’s Julia Brown from ABC Commercial here. May I speak to Tom Richards in the procurement department please?”
HOLDING A MEETING
Julia is the head of department and is leading the meeting. They are having a meeting to discuss the plan for the week and who in the team will be working on different parts of the project.
Julia: “Hello, come in. Please sit down.”
Mark: “Thank you.”
Julia: “Thanks for coming. As you know the purpose of this meeting is to discuss progress on the project. We must increase productivity this week and so I’m going to allocate tasks differently. There’ll be an opportunity for feedback and to ask any questions after that.”
To get the rest of the content in my ebook you can get my British Course here.
Let me know how you go and please leave me a comment below.