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Skills 360 – How to Overcome Cognitive Bias

Skills 360 - Overcoming Cognitive Bias

Welcome back to the Business English Skills 360 podcast as we continue learning about cognitive bias. In this lesson, we’ll look at how to deal with the biases that impact our decision-making.

Trusting your gut and making quick decisions might work in some cases. But if you think your decision-making ability is based on perfect reasoning and complete information, well you’re wrong. You’re only human after all. And your decision-making machinery is flawed. In our last lesson, we had a closer look at exactly the kinds of biases that lead to suboptimal decisions. So how can you overcome these biases?

It’s a question that every good manager should be asking themselves. And making better decisions while avoiding biases comes down to a few key things: awareness, curiosity, and evidence. Let’s start with awareness. Now, if you tuned in to our last lesson when we talked about different types of bias, then you’re already on the right track.

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Skills 360 – What is Cognitive Bias?

Business English 360 - Understanding Cognitive Bias

Welcome back to the Business English Skills 360 podcast for today’s lesson on cognitive bias. These are factors that affect our ability to make good decisions and reasonable judgments.

Cognitive biases are factors that can negatively impact our decision-making and judgments. We make numerous decisions daily, ranging from significant ones like hiring employees to minor ones deciding where to go to lunch. These decisions often rely on intuition, information, and others’ perspectives. However, biases, which are unconscious tendencies, can lead to suboptimal decisions.

One common bias is the confirmation bias, where we focus on information that supports our existing beliefs and ignore contradictory evidence. This can cause us to become entrenched in incorrect views. Another is the sunk-cost fallacy, where we stick to a decision due to prior investments, even when it’s not the best choice.

The halo effect and horns effect are biases where one trait of a person influences our overall perception of them, often leading to misjudgments. For example, attractiveness can be wrongly equated with competence, while negative traits can overshadow a person’s capabilities.

Intuition can sometimes mislead us, making data crucial for decisions. However, biases like sample size neglect, where we draw conclusions from insufficient data, can still occur. Availability bias makes us overestimate the likelihood of recent events, such as fearing flying after hearing about a crash despite its relative safety.

The planning fallacy leads us to underestimate the time needed for tasks, often because we consider only the best-case scenarios. Recognizing these biases is the first step to mitigating their effects.

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BEP 35c – Meetings: Clarifying What Was Meant

BEP 35c LESSON - English Meetings: Clarifying Meaning

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on clarifying in English meetings. Previously we looked at how to clarify what was said when you didn’t hear properly. Today we’re going to look at how to clarify what someone means in order to avoid misunderstandings.

Life would be simple if everyone said what they meant clearly and directly. But that’s not the way things work. People often speak indirectly or use words that are a bit confusing. For this reason, we often need to clarify what people mean.

There are several ways to do this. You can tell someone you don’t understand. Or you might confirm an idea or restate what someone says if you think you might understand. And it may take some time to work out the general meaning or the meaning of a specific word.

Today we’ll listen to a meeting between Michael, Rachel, and Ryan. Michael is leading the meeting and talking about the disappointing launch of a new product. During the conversation, it’s not always clear what people mean. For this reason, they use several different expressions for clarifying what was meant.

Listening Questions

1. What expression does Michael use about the “numbers” that Ryan tries to clarify?
2. What does Ryan ask about that Michael wants to clarify?
3. What word does Michael use that Rachel asks about near the end of the conversation?

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BEP 407 – Financial English 5: Comparing Opportunities

BEP 407 - Financial English 5: Comparing Opportunities

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson, the fifth in our series on financial English. In this lesson, we’ll focus on selling a client on a new investment opportunity.

Some people would say that selling is all about convincing someone that they want or need what you’ve got. But that’s just half of it. A car salesman might convince you that you want a new car. But then he has to show you why his car is better than the others. And that it’s worth the money he’s asking.

Things get a little trickier when it comes to selling financial services. Investing isn’t just about the current value, but about how that value will grow in the future. So, compared to selling a car, there’s just a lot more at stake!

In this situation, you’ll need to do a good job of assessing risk and comparing an opportunity to other opportunities. You’ll also need to work with clients who’ve done some research. That means warning them against bad information and showing them alternatives. It also means reducing pressure on the client so that you don’t scare them off.

In today’s dialog, we’ll rejoin a conversation between Robert, an investment advisor, and his client Jessica. Robert is attempting to sell an opportunity to Jessica and steer her away from bad information.

Listening Questions

1. What does Robert say is the difference in risk between a classic and an alternative hedge fund?
2. What does Robert say about corporate bonds after Jessica mentions that she’s read about them?
3. What does Robert suggest as an alternative to corporate bonds?

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BEP 406 – Financial English 4: Pitching a New Opportunity

BEP 406 LESSON - Financial English 4: Pitching to Clients

Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson, the fourth in our series on financial English. In this lesson, we’ll focus on pitching a new opportunity to a client.

In certain ways, selling financial services is just like selling any other kind of product. You connect with people and you match your solution to their needs or desires. And, of course, you show how that solution is worth the money it costs. But with financial services, these activities are usually much higher stakes.

Working with other people’s money requires you to work on maintaining a strong relationship. It’s not a one-off purchase, but an ongoing transaction. You need to let them know how their investments are doing and show clients you understand them as people, including their concerns.

Then, when the time is right, you can pitch new opportunities. If you’re smart, you can set up a real win-win situation with your clients. If they earn more money, then you earn more money, and you both end up better off.

In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a conversation between Robert, an investment advisor, and his client Jessica. Robert wants to give Jessica an update on her current investments before introducing a new opportunity involving a hedge fund.

Listening Questions

1. What expression did Jessica use previously that Robert now brings back up in order to pitch her a new opportunity?
2. What does Robert say is the main benefit of a hedge fund?
3. How does Robert respond when Jessica expresses concerns that a hedge fund requires a big investment?

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