3 things I wish I had known earlier about Business English

Veröffentlicht am 15. April 2024 um 13:12


What comes to mind about the last time you spoke English in a business situation?

You may have had an excellent conversation and impressed your business partner with your communication skills. Fantastic. Keep up the good work.

There may have been some situations where you needed more confidence, misunderstood something, etc. 


3 things I wish I had known earlier about Business English


It's so easy to go back over every conversation and think about how you could have said something better or wish you'd felt more fluent." When I was working in Dublin, I often wondered how I could perfect my English. I had this idea that if only I could do that, I could maybe have the "perfect" conversation next time. I learned so much from my time working as an Investigator] in Dublin. But feeling confident and personable in business conversations in English came from some unexpected places.


 Either way, when I used to work in Dublin, there were also situations when I thought, I wish I knew before….

Here are three lessons I wish I had known about Business English Communication when I lived in Dublin:


1. Oxford English isn’t necessarily spoken in Business English


Yes, Business English can be rather formal, especially when you meet a business partner, client or customer for the first time.

Nevertheless, it is often less formal and complex than German in similar business situations.

So, translating directly from German into the Oxford English we learned in school doesn’t often meet the right level of formality. It can sound overly formal and create distance when you're trying to build rapport with English speakers.


Your Takeaway: Don’t worry. You don’t need to speak Oxford English in business.


2. You don’t need to speak in long, complicated sentences.


People will stop listening to you if you do so. You can recognize it when they look elsewhere, by playing on their mobile phone or doing something else.

Your Takeaway: keep conversations short and straightforward.


Focus on this instead: ensure you are as polite and cheerful as possible.

In Business English, being more polite and cheerful is much better. In Anglophone cultures, people tend to be more positive in their language and attitude. This is also true in business and business conversations. Staying positive and polite was new to me when I first moved to Ireland was also new to me during the first few months in Ireland. But since working with a positive -attitude makes working much easier, I got used to it quickly.


3. Don’t try to get too fancy as your English improves!


Between you and me, sometimes I wanted to impress my colleagues and use some slang or pronounce something in a way I thought was particularly impressive. When I was in Dublin, I really wanted to speak with an authentic local accent. So I was trying not to pronounce the th and pronounce the u differently. It wasn’t a very good idea.

I shouldn’t have done so because sometimes it went wrong, and my colleagues

couldn’t understand what I was trying to say. Taking the time to speak clearly and comprehensibly is much more critical than slang, local accents or perfection. I learned my lesson there!

In case you are still a little worried when you think about the next occasion you need to speak English in business, check out my post:

3 tricks to reduce your fear of speaking English in business‘. Here you get some tips and ideas on how to reduce your fear of speaking in English.


Your Takeaway: Speaking clearly and comprehensively is paramount.


Do this instead: 


Try to speak as clearly as possible to make your English understandable to an international audience. Consider the idea that this may mean slowing down. Remember not to use words that are only understood locally or sound very sophisticated in your field of work but might not be understood by everyone.


Also, show interest in your business partner by asking personal questions to create rapport. Asking simple questions is more effective because it is authentic and shows your conversation partner that you also see her/ him as a person.


4. Your key takeaways about Business Communication in English:


Sometimes, people tend to think that Business English has a lot in common with Oxford English and that the more sophisticated your English sounds, the better.

But in real life, Business English is only sometimes very formal, depending on the industries you're in.

You can try to speak clearly so that your conversation partner understands you and ideally in a neutral way. In business politeness is paramount and in an Anglophone background being more cheerful is also a great attitude for moving forward in business. 

Finally, try to build rapport by showing interest in others instead of trying to focus on yourself. 

How will your business relationships with English speakers change?


Do you want more tips on how you can become a better Business English communicator with less stress? Sign up for my newsletter.

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