BEP 78 – Socializing: Discussing Politics

They say there’s one rule of conversation that you should always follow in business – don’t talk about politics, sex or religion. Actually, however, it seems like 90% of casual conversations are about just those things – politics, sex and religion. So in this episode, we’ll be focusing on one of these topics – politics. We’ll be learning some language that will help you cope with this difficult topic.

There’s a trick to talking about politics in business. In international business culture, it’s usually better not to express strong opinions. The focus is generally on the exchange of information rather than on debate, because the main goal is to maintain harmonious relations. Often, we state our opinions non-committally. That means we don’t commit ourselves to an opinion – in other words, we don’t voice a strong view one way or the other. Instead, we prefer to be vague, or ambiguous. This strategy helps avoid conflict.

So in this podcast, in addition to covering some general phrases and vocabulary for discussing politics, we’ll be studying how to soften your questions and be non-committal when necessary.

We’ll be listening to Ricardo and Lars, old colleagues who have met each other again at an international conference. They’re talking about the political situations in their home countries, Brazil and Denmark.

Listening Questions

1) Ricardo says he has heard that the Danish government is pretty far “right”, that is, conservative. But Lars seems to think that this has a good side. What is it?
2) Lars mentions that Brazil has won its bid to host the World Cup. Ricardo says that Brazil has a lot of work to do in which areas?
3) Lars talks about a certain kind of problem that has “cropped up”, that is, appeared or occurred during Brazilian President Lula’s presidency. What is it?

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