English is the universal language spoken across many businesses and industries. Many international corporations or companies looking to break into overseas markets will be inclined to hire employees with English listed as a language skill on their resume. Below, we have mock conversations in different settings that you can use to practice for real-life situations with your colleagues. Let’s have a conversation.
Making small talk in the office
Small talk is a kind of light-hearted informal conversation you have with someone you don’t know very well. It helps “break the ice” and fill the awkward silence that can happen in various settings. You can also use small talk in the workplace as an easy way to get to know your colleagues without worrying about saying something wrong. Here is an example of small talk at the office.
Bob: Good morning.
Jane: Good morning. Are you new? I haven’t seen you around the office before.
Bob: No, I’m not new. I’ve been working here for four months.
Jane: Which department do you work in?
Bob: I’m in the IT department.
Jane: IT sounds like an interesting job.
Bob: It is. It can also be technical and requires long hours.
Jane: With such long hours, were you able to watch the game this weekend?
Bob: Unfortunately, not. I was working overtime. But I heard it was a great match.
Jane: It was. And the weather was great too. Would you like a cup of coffee?
Bob: Yes, please. I’d love a cup of coffee.
In this short and basic conversation, Jane and Bob discussed three light topics: work, sports, and the weather. The more advanced your English-speaking skills, the more in-depth your small talk can get, like discussing the game and player technique and abilities.
Getting help from IT
Here is a mock conversation with Bill, who works in IT.
Jane: Hi, Bob. How are you today?
Bob: I am doing well, thank you. How can I help you today?
Jane: I’m having a problem with my laptop. Will you be able to help?
Bob: Sure, what seems to be the problem?
Jane: My laptop screen is frozen. I powered it on and off to reboot, but now the screen is black and won’t switch on.
Bob: Sure, no problem. I will come to your desk and assess what the problem could be.
In this short conversation, Jane gets straight to the point in requesting help with her laptop. Her English skills have passed the beginner stage as she is now able to describe the problem in some detail using phrases like “powered” and “reboot” in the proper context.
Setting up a meeting
Meetings are a necessary part of work life. They can take place via Teams or in person. Sometimes meetings are quick catch-up sessions, and others are long collaborative sessions. You could be presenting or just a guest. Finding time in conflicting schedules and between tasks and deadlines can be challenging. In the scenario below, Jane and Sarah discuss the ideal time for a meeting to review Jane’s presentation.
Sarah: Hi Jane, how are you today?
Jane: I’m doing well, thanks, Sarah. How are you?
Sarah: Great, thanks for asking. How’s your schedule this week?
Jane: I have several meetings and a few tasks to complete this week.
Sarah: Okay, please check your schedule and my calendar availability, and when you find a gap, book the time for us.
Jane: I have a hybrid schedule, so I’m not in the office every day. Does it have to be in person?
Sarah: Ideally, yes. I’m in the office all week, and I’d like to meet next time you’re here as well.
Jane: Sure. Have I done anything wrong?
Sarah: We need to discuss a few matters regarding the presentation you gave earlier today.
How to give and receive feedback
Giving and receiving feedback is a big part of any job. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to give feedback or be on the receiving end. However, you can maintain a positive tone even in these critical conversations. Below, Sarah and Jane are meeting so Sarah can give Jane feedback on her presentation.
Sarah: Jane, thanks for making time to come and see me. As I mentioned, I’d like to talk to you about the presentation you gave to the team and client earlier.
Sarah: Your contribution to the presentation seemed disorganised and rushed. Many of the team members could not follow what you were saying.
Jane: What do you mean? Was I unclear about anything?
Sarah: You are an eloquent speaker and know your work very well. However, the client has expressed their dissatisfaction with your presentation and said that the strategies you presented were unclear, and you provided no research to support your strategies and plan going forward.
Jane: It’s just that there’s a lot going on, and I worked late all week to meet my deadlines. This was too much for me to do in time.
Sarah: Okay, I understand. Next time, please let the team know if you are under pressure and unable to prepare a presentation. We are a team that supports each other.
Jane: I know everyone is busy, and I wasn’t sure they’d be able to help.
Sarah: I understand that, but it’s always better to ask than assume. Doing otherwise makes the team look unprofessional.
Jane: Will I receive any disciplinary action?
Sarah: No, not disciplinary, but Peter will be taking the lead on the project going forward, and you will take on a more supportive role. This will allow you to focus your attention on less demanding tasks and give you the opportunity to find time management tools and presentation skills for future projects.
Jane: I understand Sarah. Thank you for letting me know.
In this conversation, you will notice the advanced use of English phrases and sentence structure. This level of conversation is an example of someone who has a fluent grasp of the language. Their level of comprehension, speaking, and listening level allows Sarah to use more descriptive terminology in the feedback session. Read our helpful guide on how to give and receive feedback.
The English Vertical
The English Vertical by Alison is a progressive study of the English language. The courses are suited to all levels of learning, ranging from Beginner to Advanced. This means that no matter your current level, we’ve got something for you to learn from Alison.
If you aren’t sure what level you should start studying, click below for your free English assessment.
So, regardless of what business you’re in, let’s learn to speak, read, and write English at any level.