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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Be Professional! Never say this at work! ❌

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Speaking face-to-face with customers, your boss, or any

of the other people that you work with can be a little

tricky, especially when you're dealing with problems

or difficult situations.

Your choice of words and the phrases that you use can

affect what customers and your colleagues think of you.

So, if you speak English as a second or a third language,

using the right words in the right way

is really important.

I'm Emma from mmmEnglish

and today I'm going to walk you through five situations

that are super common in just about any workplace,

to help you to avoid the things that you should never say


give you some really simple expressions

that will help people to see you

for the helpful professional that you truly are.

So, are you ready to get to work?

Situation number one.

Someone asks you a question

but you don't know the answer.

Excuse me, do you know if the Bluetooth adapter

will work on the Sony A6400?

Ahhh... I don't know.

When someone asks you a question

and you simply don't know the answer,

well never say "I don't know".

Even though this is the truth,

even though, those are the correct English words to say,

you're not being helpful at all!

So, saying "I don't know" in the workplace -

especially to a customer -

sounds really unprofessional in English,

even a little bit rude.

It's like saying you don't care.

So to sound more professional

and to show that you do care, try saying

"I'm not sure, but I can find out".

So, say it with me,

Or you could say "I'll find out for you."


Here's another one:

"Let me come back to you on that"

So, you can use this to say

that you need a little more time to find the answer

but you're assuring the person

that you will try to help them.

Excellent! You're sounding really helpful

and much more professional already!

Speaking of sounding more professional,

if you need to improve your English skills at work

when you're speaking to clients or customers

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For all of the details and to register,

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Now, it's time to get back to work!

Situation number two.

Someone asks you if you can do something

by a specific time.

So this happens all the time at work, right?

Especially if you work at a place that has deadlines.

Emma, ummm...

Our clients need this done by 2 o'clock tomorrow,

do you think you can manage that?

I'll try to finish it.

So.. Yes?

Can I tell them that we'll have it done by 2?

I'll try my best.

When someone asks you if something can be done

by a certain time,

don't use the phrase "I'll try".

I mean, of course, you'll try

and trying is great!

But in English, if you use the verb 'try',

you're not really committing to anything

You're not saying that you will or you won't

or you can or you can't do something, right?

You're not committing to a deadline at all

so you're not being very helpful

and this is not very professional at all!

The person asking you has asked a specific

yes/no question:

Can you get it done by this time?

So you need to give a really clear-cut answer, okay?

You can sound much more professional

simply by saying:

I can get it done by 2pm.

So, say it with me.

Sure, I can have it done by 2pm.


But what if you can't get it done by 2pm

or by the end of the day?

What if you can't get it done?

Well, you definitely shouldn't say

that you'll try, seriously.

Saying that you'll try might make them

go away in the short term.

But you're going to let them down in the long run

and that is really unprofessional.

You need to be honest with them

but you also need to make a commitment

to reassure them when you can get it done by.

So, in this situation try an alternative like:

I don't think I can manage it by 2,

but I can have it done by 4.

Actually, I don't think I can manage it by 2

but I can definitely have it done by 4.

I don't think I can manage it by Thursday,

but I can definitely have it done by Friday.

Would that be okay?

Nice work! Let's keep going.

Situation number three.

Uh-oh... Your boss or a customer is angry

or disappointed about something.

Now, it could be something that you did personally,

like, maybe you were late

or perhaps it's not actually your fault

but you still need to deal with this situation.

This is ridiculous! I drove the whole way down here

to pick the thing up. I even rang you this morning

and now you're telling me it's not ready?


Okay? That's all you've got... Okay?


Alright, so nobody really wants to deal with

angry or frustrated customers, do they?

And if something like that's ever happened to you,

you might even freeze up

and get really awkward.

it's not really a good look, right?

But of course, there's always going to be someone

who's unhappy or frustrated

about something at some point.

It's just part of working life, isn't it?

So, it's a good idea to have a plan so in those situations

you've got something to say to make the situation better

and not worse!

Lucky for you there are two really important words

that will make everything a little better.

I understand.

Simple, huh?

So before you freeze up and just say

"okay" or "yes",

just remember, all you need to say is "I understand"

With these really simple words, for just a moment,

you can make the situation better .

You'll help the other person to see that you're listening

and show them that you care about helping them

and of course, then you need to offer

something to help the situation, right? A solution.

So try these with me.

I understand. Let's see what we can do.

I'm sorry, I understand.

Let's see what we can do about this.

Notice that I used the word 'let's' and 'we' instead of 'I'.

This is a really great way to involve the other person

in the solution.

I understand you've come all this way and it's not ready.

Let's see what we can do.


So you're ready for the next one, right?

Situation number four, numero cuatro.

Well when you're keeping somebody waiting,

what should you do?

Maybe you're busy with another customer,

maybe you're on a phone call

or maybe you really need to go to the toilet

and you've got to leave quickly.

Whatever the case,

the worst thing that you could possibly say is:

Things are just really busy today

so it's taking a bit longer than usual.

Yeah, yeah we've just had loads of new clients come in.

Hang on a sec!

No no no no no no no. This is not good, okay?

You know this situation right? It's just rude.

But fortunately there are a couple of phrases

that you can memorise that will have you sounding

really professional and keep the person

who's waiting happy.

So the first one is:

I'll be with you in a moment.

And this expression just lets them know that you know

that they're there and that you won't be long

until you give them your full attention. So say it with me.

Brilliant! Alright and the second one is:

Sorry to keep you waiting, I'll be right there.

You try it.

Sorry to keep you waiting,

I'll be there with you in just a minute.

Can you think of any other ways to respond

in this type of situation?

If you can, add them to the comments below.

Situation number five.

So when somebody asks you a question

but you didn't quite hear them

or maybe you didn't understand them.

What should you do?

Hey Emma, do you reckon you can let the guys go early

this afternoon? I'm gonna nick off too.


Never say "what". Ever.

Okay? This is one that the parents and teachers

of English speaking children are always

trying to teach them

and it's a really big no-no in the workplace.

You can sound much more professional by saying:

I'm sorry, I missed that.

You try it.

I'm sorry, I missed that. Could you say it again, please?

Awesome! So now try:

Sorry, would you mind just repeating that?

Sorry, would you mind just repeating that for me?

I missed it.

Now there are lots of different ways to let

someone know that you didn't understand them, right?

And politely ask them

to repeat themselves a little more clearly.

Can you think of any other ways that you could

say the same thing?

If you can, add them into the comments.

So I hope this lesson has given you some options

to help you sound a little more professional at work.

If you want to keep working on your professional

English, I've got a couple of other lessons right here

that are perfect for you.

And I make new videos here every week

on the mmmEnglish Channel. So make sure you

hit the subscribe button just down there

so that you don't miss out on any of them.

And thank you very much for joining me

and I look forward to seeing you in the next lesson!

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