BEP 294 – Business Trip 3: Confidential Discussion

BEP 294 - Holding a Confidential Discussion in English

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on having a confidential discussion during a business trip.

If you’ve got colleagues or clients in other parts of the world, you probably rely a lot on email and the phone. But meeting in person continues to be important for building relationships and trust, and for discussing important issues. That’s one reason, of course, why the overseas business trip remains important.

And there’s one type of discussion that can be especially difficult: discussing a confidential matter. Perhaps you need to deliver bad news, or share sensitive information or tell someone about an important change. Meeting face-to-face in these types of situations is often the best way to break the news.

So what’s the best way to go about this? Well, to begin, it’s important to set a positive tone to put the other person at ease. Next, you might want to ask him or her how things are going. That can help break the ice, and the other person might actually mention the topic you want to discuss. Once you’ve started this way, you can introduce the sensitive information you want to deliver. And because the information is sensitive, you need to ask for discretion. Finally, depending on the nature of the discussion, you might also have to provide reassurances. After all, after we hear important information, we might wonder how it will impact us.

In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Cam, who works for an American clothing company. He’s visiting the head of the company’s Chinese office, David. The company manufactures some of its clothing in China, and has been considering how to expand their retail activities in Asia. Cam needs to have a confidential discussion with David to share some important news.

Listening Questions

1. How does Cam ask for David’s perspective on the current situation?
2. Cam needs to tell David about a decision regarding retail in China. What point does Cam mention to introduce this decision?
3. How does Cam reassure David near the end of the conversation?

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