Language Functions in Business Situations

  • delivery
  • information
  • explanation
  • advice, etc.

The video explains the importance of using these functions politely and diplomatic. Remember that you can never be wrong when you are respectful and diplomatic when using English.

Exercise 2 Numbers 1 - 8

The words and phrases that are most relevant to showing what the speaker is doing are underlined.

  1. making a complaint: You promised delivery within 48 hours, but we’ve waited four days for them! They seem to be exactly what we wanted, so we hope to be able to order from you again in future, but the late delivery is very disruptive to our production schedule. Please let me know how you’ll make sure this doesn’t happen again.
  2. changing an arrangement: I’ll have to miss the meeting, unless we can come up with an alternative time … I’ll ring Jerry and fix it up.
  3. making a recommendation: We need to turn the situation around, work the market to our advantage. What I’d suggest is a complete review of the way we’re approaching the market. I think we should get everyone together and explore all the possibilities.
  4. giving instructions: but if you go to Medford Central Station, it’s a direct line. That’ll take you to Tower Square – and if you give us a call when you arrive we’ll send someone to collect you.
  5. C (requesting information). Key phrases: I’m going to need input …. What I’d like from you … I’ll also need a report …
  6. D (making a recommendation). Key phrases: isn’t it time you started … I really think you should … Why don’t you
  7. E (requesting advice). Key phrases: I’d rather try to go through them here with you … Perhaps you could tell me what you think would be the best thing to do. I’d be really interested in your views.
  8. B (confirming information). Key phrases: I just thought I ought to let you know … You’ve probably heard already that we agreed … I just wanted to let you know officially that it had been authorised.

Longer Conversations

Read the interview below with a leading industrialist and business consultant, Philip Spencer. Each statement (below on the right) relates to the section of the script immediately to the left of it.
NB: G = Gemma, the interviewer; PS = Philip Spencer





And now let’s meet Philip Spencer, one of Britain’s top industrialists, and hear about his experiences and ideas on improving company performance… Welcome, Philip.

Thanks, Gemma. Good to be here.

Philip, you’re famous for your unique approach when called in to advise companies…

Well, I’m certainly very generous with my advice! I always acknowledge genuine effort wherever possible – it is important to do so; but my job isn’t to manage the company, it’s to hunt down underlying weaknesses in the systems; that’s what I’m trained to do.

0  When visiting companies, Philip Spencer’s objective is to identify problem areas.



Your visit to Manson’s received a very mixed response, didn’t it?

Well, yes. Following my first visit, they’d researched the market more deeply and had improved product quality considerably, but, on my return, I blamed their failures on the ancient assembly line which they’d still done nothing about, despite my report, and which by now had led to a ten-year waiting list for their customers. The company was so upset by the comments I made during my second visit that they didn’t invite me back!

1  Problems at Manson’s had continued after Spencer’s first visit because of outdated production methods.



Another of your consultations took you to Criterion Glass, a family-run business…

Yes. Their troubles started with an over-concentration on the actual making of the product, on the craftsmanship involved, without asking themselves whether there was still enough of a market for that type of product. Prices needed to be more competitive too, something they hadn’t considered sufficiently.

2  Difficulties at Criterion Glass stemmed from lack of attention to consumer demand.



As you said, you’re famous for your advice to industry, but for a long time you were not at all successful in business yourself, were you?

True! The first two organisations I headed went into liquidation! They were both relatively new companies, though, without a long history and were trying to establish their brand name. People had tried to warn me, of course. The resources were there – that wasn’t the problem – but I just couldn’t get things to work – basically because financial services just isn’t my field.

Philip Spencer blames his early business difficulties on lack of knowledge of the financial sector.

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