During the first business ESL podcast in this series, we studied many such war and military related idioms. We learned the meaning of â€œtaking flak,â€ â€œreinforcing oneâ€™s position,â€ â€œlaying low,â€ â€œmaking a moveâ€ and many others. In this podcast, we will continue exploring useful war idioms.
The dialog picks up where we left off at the Luminex management meeting. Jane has just explained that they need to think â€œstrategically.â€ He explains that this means â€œlaying low,â€ by which he means waiting to take action until the economy improves.
As you listen, pay attention to the war idioms Jane and her colleagues use. You may not understand them the first time. After you hear the debrief, go back and listen again, then things should be much clearer.
Listening Questions: BEP 74 ADV – Idioms: Business is War (Part 2)
1) What does Jane mean when she says their competitor, Meyers, is its own worst enemy?
With the economy worsening, Jane feels that Meyers will not be able to continue or sustain its aggressive strategy of both releasing mid-range products to compete with Luminex and maintaining a leading position in the premium market. Meyersâ€™ strategy will defeat itself, so Meyers is â€œits own worst enemy.â€
2) The speakers describe their new strategy as an â€œambushâ€ that will â€œsurroundâ€ Meyers. Why do they say this? What is the strategy?
They mean that when the economy starts to improve (consumer spending picks up) they can both refresh, that is re-release or re-advertise, their mid-range products as well as release a premium product to attack Meyersâ€™ traditionally strong position in the high end of the market. Since this is attacking Meyers from both sides, it â€œsurroundsâ€ Meyers. Also, it will be unexpected, so it is an â€œambush.â€
Business and war. War and business. Itâ€™s no accident that many business strategies and management techniques were first developed in the military. Actually, itâ€™s quite natural that we think about business competition in terms of war. Companies fight each other for market share. We strategize about how to win the battle. You try to attack my market position, and I defend it. Business is full of such war idioms. Though itâ€™s not the only way we think about business, it is certainly the main way we talk about it. Therefore, to communicate effectively in a business environment, we need to learn these war idioms.
Thatâ€™s what weâ€™ll be doing in this two-part series. In todayâ€™s dialog, the management at Luminex, a producer of LCD TVs, is discussing how to respond to a attack on their market position by a competitor, Meyers. Traditionally, Meyers has been strong in the premium (high value) market and Luminex has been strong in the mid-range market. Recently, however, Meyers has tried to take mid-range market share from Luminex.
Listening Questions: BEP 73 ADV – Idioms: Business is War (Part 1)
1) The first two speakers talk about â€œalways being on the defensiveâ€ and â€œtaking way too much flak.â€ What do they mean and what do they propose doing?
The first two speakers feel that while their main competitor, Meyers, has been attacking their market position and giving them fierce competition, they have been doing little to respond. They propose â€œsetting their sights onâ€ or targeting Meyersâ€™ premium market position in order to fight back.
2) How does Janeâ€™s point of view differ from the first two speakers?
Jane along with the other speaker note that because American consumer spending is going down, it is not a good time to move into the premium market. Jane believes it is wiser to â€œlay lowâ€ or to wait until spending improves to fight back.
This is the first in a series of Business English Practice Pods that review and extend the language that is covered in the regular podcast. Practice pod dialogs will revise key language but in different situations. Also, they give you more opportunities to practice what youâ€™ve learned.
Weâ€™ll hear several phrases from Sports Idioms 1 & 2, plus a few new ones, being used in a new context – a business meeting.
The idiomatic expressions we feature in Sports Idioms 1 & 2 relate to popular sports in the USA, particularly baseball and American football. In business, competition is often understood in terms of athletic competition. Thatâ€™s why there are so many sports idioms in business English.
You can also check out the new practice pod on sports idioms (BEP 61) to hear these idioms being used in a different context – a business meeting.
Listening Quiz (Click a question to see the answer):
BEP 57 – Sports Idioms 1
1) Do Jan and Jen think Accentâ€™s takeover of TelStar was a good idea?
They seem to have a little disagreement on this issue. Jan says Accent â€œhit a home run,â€ that is scored a big success. Jen thinks the deal was â€œoverpriced,â€ or too expensive.
2) Why was there a delay in the takeover?
Apparently the shareholders were â€œstalling for time,â€ that is, using delaying tactics to get a better deal.
BEP 58 – Sports Idioms 2
1) Who is McConnel and what do Jan and Jen think of him?
McConnel is the new CEO of Accent. They use three idioms two describe him: He has â€œstepped up to the plate,â€ â€œmade a great pitchâ€ and â€œkeeps his eyes on the ball.â€ Discussed in detail in the debrief, these three idioms all have a positive meaning. We get the feeling that McConnel is energetic, dynamic, and has taken the initiative.
2) What do Jen and Jan say about Accentâ€™s future in American market?
They have a little bit of a disagreement. Jen thinks Accent might â€œstrike out,â€ that is fail, while Jan believes that McConnel is very aware and smart â€“ â€œhas his eye on the ballâ€.