BEP 24c – Diplomatic English (Part 2)

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on using diplomatic, or indirect, language.

What do I mean by diplomatic language? Well, imagine you’re in a meeting and you disagree with someone. Is it okay to say “I disagree with you?” Well, maybe in some situations. But usually we need to be less direct. For example, you could say “I’m not so sure I agree with that.” Using “not so sure” makes it softer, or more diplomatic.

This kind of language is really important when we talk about problems, right? And we can use careful language to downplay a problem. What is “downplay?” That means to make a problem seem less serious. For example, maybe your coworker is worried about a computer problem. You could downplay the problem by saying “there’s no reason to think it will happen again.” You didn’t say there isn’t a problem, right? You just made it seem less serious.

So, what kind of careful language will you learn today? Well, you’ll learn how to disagree carefully and how to guide people to a key idea. You’ll also learn how to interrupt politely, downplay a problem, and highlight the main point.

In the dialog, you’ll hear a teleconference between four managers who work for a guitar company. In our last lesson, we heard Jack talking carefully about a problem at the factory. Some workers got sick, and the other managers were worried because the workers complained to the government. Now those managers want to know more about what might happen to the factory.

Listening Questions

1. Jack thinks the others are exaggerating, or overstating, the problem. What does he say before he tells them this?
2. Dan interrupts Jack when he’s talking. How does Dan do this? What does he say?
3. According to Jack, are these new problems?

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