When you are learning English for business there will come a time when you are using your new skill in a business meeting. The meeting could be online via Skype, on the phone or in person, it could be a presentation and it can be tough! But do not worry, the challenges are something a lot of people go through, and they are not something to be embarrassed about. In this blog, we look at some of the issues around asking people to slow down and help you understand.
What a lot of people do when asked to repeat something because someone doesn’t understand is say the same thing again. This is really no help at all. They think you simply may not have heard them properly but the real reason to ask them to repeat is that you didn’t understand the terms or vocab they used. It is important to state this when asking them to repeat. It is perfectly OK to say “sorry, I don’t understand that phrase, can you explain” rather than saying “sorry, I didn’t get that”
People from different parts of any country will speak differently. But people learning English who live in different countries will also speak differently. So how someone speaks can be a really big challenge in a business meeting. It may be you are talking to an English company but you find the accent very hard to understand. It is not offensive to politely say “I am very sorry, I find your lovely accent hard to understand”. You can compliment them on it and ask where they are from and most people will be happy to talk about their home town and help you understand them. It may be useful to ask any colleagues before the meeting about any strong accents so you can prepare a little or have them be ready to help you if you get stuck.
There are certain points that come up in meetings that are important. It might be an email address or a website, it could be a phone number or some important meeting points. It is really important you are confident you have the correct details in this situation. Do not be afraid to ask the person to slow down while you write it all down and then confirm the details. On online meetings, you can ask someone to simply write these details in the chat window to make sure they are correct. But getting it wrong because you didn’t ask to clarify could cause problems later on. Be confident and make sure you have the right details.
Most business meetings would benefit from everyone slowing down and making sure all the point are covered properly. It is important you feel confident to ask other team members or clients to slow down so you can understand them properly. You are learning a new language and it is something to be proud of, but you cannot learn it all from the beginning. Most people will be happy to go over anything and help support you, and that bit of extra time is far better than a list of confused notes and mistakes because you chose not to say you didn’t understand.