BEP 95 – Communication: Resolving Conflict (2)

This is the second in a two-part Business English Podcast lesson on resolving conflict, in which we’ve been focusing on solving everyday disagreements in the office. Ben, a new training specialist at a manufacturing company, feels that he is doing an unfair share (that is, too much) of the work in his department. Gerry, Ben’s manager, talks with him to solve the problem.

In the first episode, we studied how Gerry opened the discussion in an informal, non-threatening way, and we looked at how he listened actively to Ben to win his trust.

In this episode, we’ll pay attention to how Gerry and Ben work together to come up with a solution. In particular, we’ll focus on how they state common goals, raise concerns, and agree action.

Where we left off last time, Gerry had just asked a question to resolve the conflict: Gerry wants to know what Ben would suggest doing to fix the situation.

Listening Questions

1) What solution does Ben propose?
2) In which area does Ben feel he could make a real contribution?
3) What action do Ben and Gerry agree on?

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BEP 94 – Communication: Resolving Conflict (1)

People do not always get along, so dealing with conflict is part of any job. And as often as not, work disagreements get resolved as much as in informal discussions in the hallway, as they do in the conference room. So, in this two-part series on resolving conflict, we’ll be studying useful language for discussing and resolving disagreements.

We will be focusing not on major conflicts between companies or inside organizations, but rather on the everyday sort of disagreements that all of us have to deal with to be successful in our work.

In the listening, Elegant is a company that designs and manufactures bathroom fixtures – sinks, toilets, and so on. Ben has recently joined Elegant as a training specialist. When he started, he was promised that Elegant would hire someone to help him with his work-load, but instead he is still doing almost everything by himself. He was also promised the opportunity to do some course design, but instead his manager, Gerry, insists on closely supervising all of Ben’s work. Ben feels like he is working harder than anyone else in the office: He is always the last one to leave the department in the evening. But he doesn’t feel that his hard work is getting recognized.

As you listen, pay attention to the language that Gerry and Ben use to deal with this disagreement.

Listening Questions

1. Gerry says he wants to “sit down informally and thrash things out a little.”
2. What do you think this means? A strain is something that is tiring and, perhaps, irritating.
3. What does Gerry say is “getting to be kind of a strain?” What solution does Gerry propose?

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BEP 65 – Sales English: Questioning Techniques (2)

This is the second in a two-part Business English Pod lesson on questioning techniques. Last time in BEP 64 we looked at making small talk and gathering information with open questions, getting specific information with probing questions and guiding the conversation by showing interest.

This time we’ll learn several more advanced questioning techniques, including direct questions, to get information from someone who is being uncommunicative, reflective questions, to guide the conversation, and hypothetical questions, to suggest possible action. Together these techniques form a series that can be used to drill down to the information you need.

As you’ll remember, the listening takes place in a customer needs analysis: Brad, from chemical coatings producer Forrest and Brown, is visiting his customer Andy. Andy’s company, Stratos, puts together circuit boards for use in consumer electronics.

At the end of Part 1 , Brad had just used a probing question to determine what exact kinds of products Andy’s company focuses on. When he discovered that Stratos was making a lot of boards for TVs, Brad decides to follow this line of questioning. As we’ll see, this is because TVs are a good match for Brad’s products.

The specific kind of TV they are talking about is an LCD TV, often referred to as a flat screen TV.

Listening Questions

1) LCD TVs produce a lot of heat. Why is this important to Brad’s sales pitch?
2) What are Andy’s main priorities in selecting conformal coatings to protect the circuit boards Stratos produces?
3) What are the main good points of the coating that Brad wishes to sell to Andy?

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BEP 64 – Sales English: Questioning Techniques (1)

Questions are an important part of almost every conversation. So being able to ask good questions is critical to communication. How can we make our questioning more effective and efficient? In this two-part Business English Podcast series we’ll be looking at some answers.

The communication skills we’ll be learning can be used in any situation, but we’ll be focusing in on an area where questioning techniques are particularly important: needs analysis. This refers to analyzing the needs of a customer as part of the sales process. We’ll study a series of questioning techniques that can be used to “drill down to” – that is, get to or uncover – the information you want.

In today’s Business English listening Brad is a sales manager for Forrest and Brown, a producer of innovative industrial coatings and glues. Coating refers to a chemical that is applied to the outside of something to protect it. For example, paint is a type of coating. Forrest and Brown produces “conformal coatings”; this type of coating is used to protect printed circuit boards, or PCBs. PCBs are small flat boards covered with wiring and electronic parts. Almost all electronic devices – TVs, CD players, phones – have them.

Today Brad is visiting Andy, who is a production manager for Stratos, an assembler of PCBs that are used in household items. We can say that Andy is Brad’s “prospect” – the person he wants to sell to.

Let’s listen to how Brad asks Andy questions to analyze Stratos’ needs.

Listening Questions

1) What does Brad think of the Stratos facility?
2) How long has Stratos been located in its current location?
3) What kind of devices does Stratos produce circuit boards for?

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Business News 05 – Virtual Meetings

How do you conduct your meetings? Face-to-face, on the phone, by videoconference or maybe even using VOIP/Skype? Well, now there is a new way – virtual meetings, or meetings where participants are represented by computer generated characters.

Listen to how IBM is using the virtual world of a website called Second Life as the next best thing to in person corporate meetings. After listening to the article, we’ll highlight some of the new vocabulary and provide definitions and further examples.

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