Be POLITE, PROFESSIONAL & HELPFUL at work | Business English Expressions

Lesson Overview

Lesson Summary 

Business English expressions will help you to sound more polite, professional and helpful at work.
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Video Transcript
Section 1

Well hey there I’m Emma from mmmEnglish! I’ve been getting lots of requests for lessons that will help you to expand your vocabulary and help you to sound more professional when speaking in English.

So that is exactly what this lesson is all about today. I’m going to take some very common everyday English verbs and improve them a little or give you some more impressive ones to use instead. So if you’re ready to do that, stick around.

I want to jump in with a quick message from our friends at Lingoda to talk about their business English course and the fact that they’re offering mmmEnglish students the chance to try their classes for free which I’ll tell you about soon.

Anyone who studied business English will tell you that it’s quite different to general conversational English. The language that we use at work tends to be more formal so for anyone studying English to advance their career, being able to communicate professionally is going to help you to do that.

Luckily at Lingoda, not only can you study French, Spanish, German and of course, English classes, they also have a specific business English course alongside other professionals focusing on the English skills that you need to communicate effectively in your workplace like presentation skills and interview skills. The skills that you need to help you progress your career and to succeed in an international company.

Like all Lingoda courses, classes are available twenty-four seven and in small groups. When I was taking Spanish classes with Lingoda, we usually had three or four students in each class which was awesome! I had lots of speaking practice.

Business English classes with Lingoda will increase your fluency and your confidence to use English at work.

You can sign up for free for seven days and try up to three group classes which is an awesome way to see what the classes are like before you decide to continue.

Or you can use this code down here EMMA8 and get a fifteen per cent discount on your first month. Use the link down in the description and definitely go check them out.

Let’s think for a moment about the many basic functions that we do when we’re at work.

  • We think about things.
  • We make things.
  • We change things.
  • We guess.
  • We solve problems.
  • We work together.

Now all of these words are good and they will definitely help you to communicate your message but they’re quite basic so if you want to sound impressive, impress your boss sound more professional with colleagues and clients then upgrading these words will definitely help.

THINK OF/ABOUT

So let’s start with the verb ‘think’ specifically to think of or to think about something. To think about attending an event or asking for a raise.

consider /kənˈsɪdə(r)/

Now we can upgrade this phrasal verb to ‘consider’.

So instead of saying: I will think about your suggestion.
Say: I will consider your suggestion but I need to find some extra budget before I approve it.

We can also upgrade: Have you thought about employing?
Have you considered employing a marketing assistant in-house?

deliberate /dɪˈlɪbəreɪt/

Now if you’re thinking about something and the decision is difficult for some reason, it’s also important then using ‘deliberate’ is a much better choice. So it’s also a synonym of think about but it’s used when you’re making a really tough decision and you’ve got to take some extra time to decide carefully.

  • You’ve been deliberating all week on this, are you any closer to a decision?

We also have this idea of thinking something is…

  • I think Ben is one of the best mentors in our organisation.

I believe

But we can improve this by using the verb ‘believe’.

  • I believe Ben is one of the best mentors in our organisation.

So it sounds much surer, more confident and more assertive.

consider

We can also use ‘consider’ here as well but the structure changes a little. So I want you to pay close attention to what changes in this sentence.

We can say: I think or I believe Ben is…
But we can also say: I consider Ben to be one of the best mentors in our organisation.

So when you use this language, it helps you to speak with authority, to be more impressive, more confident. It really sounds like you know what you’re talking about.

MAKE

Another really common verb to use at work is ‘to make’ That’s what we’re there doing isn’t it? We’re making stuff and there are lots of different words that we can use instead of ‘make’ but it really does depend on the context as to which one you can use or you should use.

Let’s take a look at this sentence and see how we can improve it.

Our team made a report/wrote a report.

prepare /prɪˈpeə(r)/
produce /prəˈdjuːs/

Can you think of a more professional verb that you could use instead?

Should we prepare a report for the board?
Our team has already produced a detailed report.

So these words ‘prepare’ and ‘produce’ are almost synonyms. Prepare relates to the process, a little more. And produce relates a little more to the result. So we often see the collocation produce content, prepare a report. These are useful ones to keep in mind.

create

‘To create’ is another verb upgrade on make right especially when you’re talking about design or creative activities, really when you’re making something new you know.

  • We’re creating a new concept for the client.
  • Can you create a new image that we can share on social media?
  • We created a design that will suit a range of users.

develop

‘Develop’ is another synonym for make, kind of leans a little more towards the process.

  • Our technical team is developing a plan to transition to our new platform by May.

Or even better, a strategy. They’re developing a strategy.

  • Our technical team is developing a strategy to transition to our new platform by May.
  • We’re developing an affordable solution that will make sure every family can access high-speed internet.

So these are really important collocations to keep in mind when you’re using these verbs.

CHANGE

Often the idea of change can be perceived as negative, people don’t usually like change, do they? Often we talk about change at work because we need to fix something. It suggests that there is something wrong so in a professional context, it’s definitely important to make sure that you’re polite and that you’re using language in a supportive way.

And I’ve got some alternative words and some useful expressions that will help you with that.

modify /ˈmɒdɪfaɪ/

And ‘modify’ is a really good alternative. Modify suggests minor changes, tweaks and adjustments and things that will improve the result.

Actually, you could also use the verb ‘adjust’.

  • If it’s okay with you, I’ll adjust this a little before we send it to the client.

adapt /əˈdʒʌst/ 

Now when you’re talking about changing ideas or human behaviour, then ‘adapt’ is a really good choice especially when there is a new situation or a new set of circumstances that’s behind that change.

Again, nobody really likes change do they but if you can use a more positive verb to help talk about that change then it’s much easier to get other people on board right?

  • The new regulations are tough, there’s not much that we can do about it! We just need to adapt and keep moving forward.

transition

The word ‘transition’ is an excellent one to begin using and to understand because it helps us to talk about the need for change and the process of changing in a comfortable way.

So if we transition from one thing to another, it suggests that we sort of move carefully you know, it’s not instant change which usually scares people.

If we talk about transition, it suggests that the change is going to be gradual and carefully considered.

  • We want to make sure that our new team members transition into their new roles as seamlessly as possible.

GUESS

Although many of us try not to admit it, we all guess what the heck is going on right, it’s part of solving problems and reducing risk is taking a guess. And there are so many great words that will help you to sound more intelligent and more professional when you have to take a guess. We all do right?

But sometimes using ‘guess’ suggests that you’re a little uncertain, you know, and in a professional context, it can make you seem uninformed or unprepared.

estimate /ˈestɪmeɪt/

So using ‘estimate’ suggests that you’ve put some thought into this prediction or this guess right? Estimate.

  • It’s difficult to estimate the financial impact for families.

calculate /ˈkælkjʊleɪt/

Now ‘calculate’ is a really good option when you’re talking about specific numbers. You calculate.

  • We calculate that this will save three thousand dollars a month.

Now we have a slightly different word form here but you can express the same idea by saying:

  • By our calculations, we will save three thousand dollars a month.

speculate /ˈspekjʊleɪt/

When you’re thinking about why something happened or you’re considering what might happen in the future, then ‘speculate’ is a great word. To speculate.

So usually we say ‘speculate on’ or ‘speculate about’ something.

  • I don’t want to speculate on why he resigned so suddenly.

predict /prɪˈdɪkt/

And ‘predict’ is another great synonym for guess. Predict. So it’s used when you’re taking information that you have and you’re making a call or a decision about the most likely outcome.

  • Industry experts are predicting significant changes to our working environments post-pandemic.

PROBLEMS

It is difficult to talk positively about problems right when things aren’t going so well or maybe they’ve been a little more difficult than you anticipated. So what words can you use instead of ‘problem’ which does kind of have a negative about it, doesn’t it?

challenge
complication
obstacle

Well we can say challenge, we can say complication, obstacle. These are all possible replacements, right?

In a professional context, we want to make sure that we communicate any problems that we have clearly but also do it in a way that makes it sound like you have solutions or you have a plan to keep things under control.

  • We overcame several obstacles before we landed on the result.
  • We anticipate some technical challenges but we’re confident that we’ve got the right team in place to deal with them.

headaches
hiccups

We even talk about problems as headaches or hiccups. These are a little less formal ways of expressing it but they definitely help to emphasise that the problem is not so serious you know or that they’re problems that can be managed, they’re just annoying.

  • I can see how these changes could create some headaches for the sales team but we’re working on a solution.
  • There were a few hiccups with the new ordering system on Friday, but things have been much smoother this week.

WORK TOGETHER

And lastly, if you work in an office as part of a team, it’s very likely that you work together with other people to get things done, right?

We work together. We work as a team.

But just to clarify, we do not do a teamwork, all right? This is a very common mistake that a lot of my students make.

‘Teamwork’ is a noun and we never use it with ‘do’ okay? We don’t do a teamwork.

collaborate /kəˈlæbəreɪt/

And a much more professional way to explain that you’re working together with someone else or with other people is to say that you collaborate.

  • I’m looking forward to collaborating on projects with you in the future.

join forces /dʒɔɪn   fɔː(r)səz/

Now if you really want to emphasise that two people or maybe two teams with different skill sets or sets of expertise are coming together to work together, we say that they’re joining forces.

They join forces. And this is quite powerful.

  • When our development team joined forces with our product team, they created something amazing.

So there you have it, I really hope that you found a few new expressions to expand your vocabulary range a little.

Make sure that you keep these words beside you at work during this week and see if you can apply them. You know if you’re writing an email, make sure you stop before you hit send, to try and upgrade some of the language that you’re using to sound more professional and more helpful.

Now you know I like to set a little challenge at the end of my lessons and that’s because just watching my lessons isn’t really enough, is it? You’ve got to put into practice what you’ve been learning and it’s only going to take you a few minutes.

So hit the pause button right now and write a short paragraph using at least five of the professional words that I shared during this lesson.

I’m really excited to get down there and check them out to give you some feedback, make sure you’re using them correctly. But in the meantime, I’ve got this lesson right here ready for you to continue practising with me so I’ll see you in there!

Links mentioned in the video

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