For many people, business socialising is a very important aspect of working life – but some people find it quite tricky, especially if English isn’t their first language.
In this special business edition, Neil and Feifei explore basic business socialising language – and find out what to do if you can’t quite remember someone’s name!
Business socialising: Key phrases
Finding out someone’s name:
I think we’ve met before, haven’t we?
You must be…
I can’t quite remember your name.
Of course, how silly of me to forget.
Oh yes, of course, I’m so sorry!
How are things with you?
How are you?
Feifei: Welcome to another episode of 6 Minute English with me, Feifei.
Neil: And me, Neil.
Feifei: And what are we talking about today Neil?
Neil: Well, today’s programme is all about business socialising. And, as we all know, socialising is a very important aspect of working life. Although it doesn’t always go the way we want it to, does it Feifei?
Feifei: If you’re referring to the office New Year party, we said we wouldn’t mention that again…
Neil: OK, I definitely won’t mention the word photocopier… Anyway, Feifei, I’ve been out and about talking to people about embarrassing things that happened to them while they were socialising at work. Have a listen to this!
Man: I was on a business trip abroad and people had quite difficult foreign names. I kept getting the names wrong with the people – so I’d be calling a man by a woman’s name and a woman by a man’s name. It was very embarrassing, but they were very nice about it.
Woman: I always enjoying going to business socialising occasions, such as cocktail parties or conferences. But one of the most embarrassing things is you see somebody you find them familiar, you know you’ve met them before but you can’t remember their names, especially sometimes you get mixed up with where they work and job title, so that’s one thing I find embarrassing.
Feifei: Oh dear. That sounds so embarrassing, poor lady! I’m sure something like that has never happened to you Neil?
Neil: No Feifei, as you well know I never mix business with pleasure any more. Here’s Business Betty to help us find out what that poor lady should have done!
BB: Hello you two! I trust you never find yourself in that situation but if you do, here’s what to do. If you’ve forgotten someone’s name or job title or where you have met them before, don’t panic! The best thing to do is: find out, apologise and move on. I’ll say that again: find out, apologise and move on. A good way to find out someone’s name is to say “I think we’ve met before, haven’t we?”
Neil: I think we’ve met before, haven’t we?
BB: Or “You must be Feifei”.
Neil: Oh hello, you must be Feifei.
BB: Or, “I can’t quite remember your name.”
Neil: I can’t quite remember your name.
BB: Step two is the apology. Neil, can you apologise please:
Neil: Feifei, of course, how silly of me to forget.
BB: Or say this:
Neil: Oh yes, of course, I’m so sorry!
BB: And once you’ve found out and apologised, move on! We all make mistakes and the best thing to do is get on with business. A really easy way to move things on is to say “How are things with you?”
Neil: How are things with you?
BB: And even easier is, “How are you?”
Neil: How are you?
BB: And then you can get on with things. Remember, we all make mistakes, and knowing how to get out of tricky situations is what makes the difference. Just try to keep the conversation flowing.
Neil: We will Business Betty. You’re the best!
Feifei: So there you go! Find out.
Feifei: And move on! She really does know what she’s talking about that Betty…
Neil: You’ll never go wrong with Business Betty!
Neil: Do you feel a role-play coming on?
Feifei: Yes! It’s role-play time!
Neil: Surely it’s my turn to be the boss?
Feifei: There’s no boss today, I’m afraid. For today’s role-play, let’s say we’re at a business event, and you see me, and you remember you’ve met me before, and you really want to talk to me, but you can’t remember my name. OK?
Neil: I want to talk to you, but I can’t remember your name. Hmmm, could be tricky.
Feifei: You’ll be fine. Are you ready?
Neil: I’m ready!
Neil: Hi there.
Feifei: Oh hello.
Neil: I think we’ve met before haven’t we?
Feifei: Errr, have we? Oh yes, we met a couple of months ago, didn’t we? You knocked the cup of coffee over? It’s Neil… how are you Neil?
Neil: I’m good, very good. Please forgive me. I can’t quite remember your name.
Feifei: It’s Feifei.
Neil: Of course, Feifei, how silly of me to forget. How are things with you?
Feifei: How was that for you?
Neil: Not too bad actually, I felt embarrassed though because I didn’t know your name but I was pleased because I dealt with it quickly and moved the conversation on.
Feifei: That’s the way to do it! Do you want to try another one?
Neil: Yes go on, I’m feeling quite confident now!
Feifei: OK, this time, we’re at a business event. You think you know who I am and you want to come to say hello, OK?
Neil: I think I know who you are and I want to talk to you. Got it!
Neil: Bring it on!
Neil: Oh hello, you must be Feifei.
Feifei Yeah, hi there. Nice to meet you. You are…?
Neil: I’m Neil.
Feifei: I don’t think we’ve met before, have we?
Neil: Actually, I think we might have. You work in the media, right?
Feifei: I do, yes.
Neil: Yes I thought so: we were at the same dinner last month.
Feifei: Oh yes, of course. I’m so sorry! How are you?
Feifei: Well done Neil. Another tricky situation, another success!
Neil: Find out, apologise and move on. Except this time I found out and you apologised!
Feifei: Ha, yes, it works both ways.
Neil: It’s a miracle!
Feifei: Join us again for another episode of 6 Minute English.
Neil: Err Feifei?
Neil: What’s your name again?
Feifei: Goodbye Neil, goodbye everyone.
6 Minute English – Business English: Socialising Transcript Video
More BBC 6 Minute Business English
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