BUSINESS ENGLISH advanced
1. Socialising         

The following text is about cultural diversity. Read it through once and decide which of the three statements (A, B or C) given below the extract offers the most accurate summary.

 

 

1. The Impact of Culture on Business

 

Take a look at the new breed of international managers, educated according to the most modern management philosophies. They all know that in the SBU, TQM should reign, with products delivered JIT, where CFT’s distribute products while subject to MBO.

(SBU = strategic business unit, TQM = total quality management, JIT = just-in-time, CFT = customer first team, MBO = management by objectives.)

But just how universal are these management solutions? Are these ‘truths’ about what effective management really is, truths that can be applied anywhere, under any circumstances?

Even with experienced international companies, many well-intended ‘universal’ applications of management theory have turned out badly. For example, pay-for-performance has in many instances been a failure on the African continent because there are particular, though unspoken, rules about the sequence and timing of reward and promotions. Similarly, management by objectives schemes have generally failed within subsidiaries of multinationals in southern Europe, because managers have not wanted to conform to the abstract nature of preconceived policy guidelines.

Even the notion of human-resource management is difficult to translate to other cultures, coming as it does from a typically Anglo-Saxon doctrine. It borrows from economics the idea that human beings are ‘resources’ like physical and monetary resources. It tends to assume almost unlimited capacities for individual development. In countries without these beliefs, this concept is hard to grasp and unpopular once it is understood. International managers have it tough. They must operate on a number of different premises at any one time. These premises arise from their culture of origin, the culture in which they are working, and the culture of the organization which employs them.

In every culture in the world such phenomena as authority, bureaucracy, creativity, good fellowship, verification and accountability are experienced in different ways. That we use the same words to describe them tends to make us unaware that our cultural biases and our accustomed conduct may not be appropriate, or shared.

SBU = strategic business unit = unitate comercială, economică strategică

TQM = total quality management = managementul total al calităţii

JIT = just-in-time = livrare exact la momentul potrivit

CFT = customer first team =

MBO = management by objectives = managementul pe obiective

pay-for-performance = plată pentru munca depusă

human-resource management = managementul resurselor umane

at any one time = în fiecare moment

premises = premise, locaţii

grasp = a pricepe, a înţelege (în text)

accountability = răspundere

bias =  tendinţă, orientare

 

 

A.     There are certain popular universal truths about management which can successfully be applied in various cultural contexts.

B.     Cultures are so varied and so different throughout the world that management has to take account of differences rather than simply assume similarities.

C.     Effective management of human resources is the key to everyone achieving their full potential.

 

 

 

Language Checklist

Cultural diversity and socializing

 

Welcoming visitors

Welcome to …

My name’s …

 

Arriving

Hello. My name’s … from …

I’ve an appointment to see …

Sorry – I’m a little late / early.

My plane was delayed…

 

Introducing someone

This is … He/she’s my Personal Assistant.

Can I introduce you to … He/she’s our (Project Manager).

I’d like to introduce you to …

 

Meeting someone and small talk

Pleased to meet you.

It’s a pleasure.

How was your trip? Did you have a good flight / trip / journey?

How are things in (London)?

How long are you staying in (New York)?

I hope you like it.

Is your hotel comfortable/

Is this your first visit to (the Big Apple)?

 

Offering assistance

Can I get you anything?

Do you need anything?

Would you like a drink?

If you need to use a phone or fax, please say.

Can we do anything for you?

Do you need a hotel / a taxi / any travel information / etc.?

 

Asking for assistance

There is one thing I need …

Could you get me …

Could you book me a car / taxi / hotel / …?

Could you help me arrange a flight to…?

Can you recommend a good restaurant?

I’d like to book a room for tomorrow night.

Can you recommend a hotel?

 

 

Skills Checklist

Cultural diversity and socializing

 

Before meeting business partners and fellow professionals from other countries, you could find out about their country:

·         The actual political situation

·         Cultural and regional differences

·         Religion(s)

·         The role of women in business and in society as a whole

·         Transport and telecommunications systems

·         The economy

·         The main companies

·         The main exports and imports

·         The market for the industrial sector which interests you

·         Competitors

 

You might also want to find out:

·         Which topics are safe for small talk

·         Which topics are best avoided

 

If you are going to visit another country, find out about:

·         The conversations regarding socializing

·         Attitudes towards foreigners

·         Attitudes towards gifts

·         The extent to which public, business and private lives are mixed or kept separate

·         Conventions regarding food and drink.

 

You might also like to find out about:

·         The weather at the relevant time of the year

·         Public holidays

·         The conventions regarding working hours

·         Leisure interests

·         Tourism

·         Dress

·         Body language

·         Language.

 

Practice 1

 

Make a dialogue based on the following flow chart. If you need help, look at the Language Checklist

 

Visitor                                                 Receptionist

 

Introduce yourself

 

Say you have an appointment

with Sandra Bates.                                Welcome visitor.

Explain that SB will be

along shortly.                             Offer a drink / refreshments.

Decline – ask if you can

use a phone.

                                                            Say yes / Offer fax as well.

Decline – you only need

the phone.

                                                            Show visitor to the phone.

Thank him/her.

(a few minutes later)

 

Thank assistant.

                                                            Reply – offer any other help.

Ask how far it is to station.

                                                            Two miles – ten minutes

by taxi.

                                                            Offer to book one.

Accept offer – suggest a time.                                                  

Promise to do that – say that SB is free now.

Offer to take him/her to SB’s office.

 

 

·         About small talk

If you ask a question you should comment on the answer or ask a supplementary question.

 

Exercise 1 First words

Often the first words are the most difficult. Below are some suggestions for ‘breaking the ice’. Which of the sentences could be said by a visitor, and which by the person receiving the visitor?

a.       Sorry, I’m a little early. I hope it is not inconvenient.

b.       Is the weather the same in your country?

c.       Sorry to keep you waiting. I was rather tied up just now.

d.       I’m pleased to be here, after a trip like that!

e.       Is this your first visit? What do you think of the city?

f.        People are very helpful here. On my way to meet you…

g.       Isn’t it cold today?

h.       You found us without too much difficulty, then?

i.         It’s good of you to spare the time.

j.         It’s kind of you to come all this way.

k.       I like your offices. Have you been here long?

l.         Did you have a good trip?

m.     Would you like a cup of coffee?

 

 

Exercise 2 Ending the small talk

If the small talk continues too long, you may want to change the subject to business matters. Here are some ways of doing it.

 

A.     With someone you know well:

Let’s get down to business. Or let’s get started.

B.     With someone you don’t know well:

Perhaps we could talk about the subject of our meeting.

Or

Perhaps we could talk about the reason I’m here.

 

Which expressions would you use in the following situations?

a.       On a sales visit to a potential customer.

b.       At a weekly planning meeting with colleagues.

c.       At your first meeting with the new group auditors.

d.       At a meeting to obtain finance from a bank.

e.       Before making a speech at an office party.

 
 
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