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  • Four business people sat at a desk, one is on a laptop and another is pointing at whats in front of them
    • Business and employability
    • Tips for careers using English 

    5 ways to politely say no in business English

    By Pearson Languages

    Knowing how to say no politely and professionally is important in the business world. Whether you're declining a job offer, rejecting a sales pitch, or turning down a project, saying no can be difficult. Especially if English is not your native language and you're new to learning business English.

    However, using the right phrases can make all the difference in maintaining positive relationships and avoiding misunderstandings. This blog post will explore five phrases to say no in business English politely.


  • A overhead shot of a  person sat on a chair with a laptop to their left is icons of envelopes
    • Tips for careers using English 
    • Language hints and tips

    6 things to take note of when writing English emails

    By Pearson Languages

    Every day, an astonishing number of emails are sent and received worldwide. While a considerable amount of these are informal messages between friends, the majority are for business purposes. Whether you’re emailing someone you work with, applying for a new job or making new connections, here are some general rules to follow when writing English emails…

    1. Know your tone

    Always consider who you are writing to and adapt your language accordingly. Emails are less formal than letters, so it’s fine to start your email with “Hi” or “Good morning” – but it may be better to write “Dear…” if you are emailing someone for the first time or if they are senior to you. Similarly, ending emails with “Best/kind regards” rather than “Yours sincerely/faithfully” works well, with the latter being more appropriate for a formal email. Whatever the relationship, though, don’t feel tempted to use laid-back, colloquial expressions like “Hey, you guys”, “Yo!”, or “Hi folks”.

    2. It’s all about the titles

    It’s increasingly common to use first names in international business communications, so don’t be afraid to do so. Another title to consider is your email subject header: a short, clear text is important as busy people often decide whether to even open an email depending on the subject header. Examples of a good subject header include “Meeting date changed”, “Quick question about your presentation”, or “Suggestions for the proposal”.

    3. Use a professional email address

    If you work for a company you’ll be using your company email address. But if you’re using a personal email account because you’re self-employed or looking for a new job, you should be careful when choosing that address.

    You should always have an email address that includes your name so that the recipient knows exactly who is sending the email. Email addresses that you created while you were in school or college (IloveJohn@… or “Beerlover@…) are not appropriate for the workplace!

    4. Limit the small talk

    Small talk can help to build relationships but it doesn’t need to be overly personal. A simple “I hope you are well” or “How are things?” will usually suffice. Also, be cautious with humor as it can easily get lost in translation without the correct tone or facial expressions that accompany face-to-face meetings. It’s safer to leave out humor from emails unless you know the recipient well.

    5. Keep it simple

    Emails are intended to be written, read and understood quickly, so only include the important details – and avoid saturating your message with unnecessary information.

    6. Proofread every message

    Always check your emails before pressing Send. Read and re-read your email a few times, preferably aloud, to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes. And never just rely on the auto spell-check; spell-checking software doesn't always understand the context of your writing and can throw you off with incorrect suggestions. 

    Happy emailing!

  • Two ladies in a pottery studio, one with a clipboard, both looking at a laptop together
    • Business and employability
    • Tips for careers using English

    11 ways you can avoid English jargon at work

    By Pearson Languages

    From “blue-sky thinking” to “lots of moving parts”, there are many phrases used in the office that sometimes seem to make little sense in a work environment. These phrases are known as ‘work jargon’ – or you might hear it referred to as ‘corporate jargon’, ‘business jargon’ or ‘management speak’. It’s a type of language generally used by a profession or group in the workplace, and has been created and evolved over time. And whether people use this work jargon to sound impressive or to disguise the fact that they are unsure about the subject they are talking about, it’s much simpler and clearer to use plain English. This will mean that more people understand what they are saying – both native and non-native speakers of the English language!

    The preference for plain English stems from the desire for communication to be clear and concise. This not only helps native English speakers to understand things better, but it also means that those learning English pick up a clearer vocabulary. This is particularly important in business, where it’s important that all colleagues feel included as part of the team and can understand what is being said. This, in turn, helps every colleague feel equipped with the information they need to do their jobs better, in the language they choose to use.

    Here, we explore some of the most common examples of English jargon at work that you might hear and suggest alternatives you can use…

    Blue-sky thinking

    This refers to ideas that are not limited by current thinking or beliefs. It’s used to encourage people to be more creative with their thinking. The phrase could be confusing as co-workers may wonder why you’re discussing the sky in a business environment.

    Instead of: “This is a new client, so we want to see some blue-sky thinking.”

    Try saying: “This is a new client, so don’t limit your creativity.”

    Helicopter view

    This phrase is often used to mean a broad overview of the business. It comes from the idea of being a passenger in a helicopter and being able to see a bigger view of a city or landscape than if you were simply viewing it from the ground. Non-native English speakers might take the phrase literally, and be puzzled as to why someone in the office is talking about taking a helicopter ride.

    Instead of: “Here’s a helicopter view of the business.”

    Try saying: “This is a broad view of the business.”

    Get all your ducks in a row

    This is nothing to do with actual ducks; it simply means to be organized. While we don’t exactly know the origin of this phrase, it probably stems from actual ducklings that walk in a neat row behind their parents.

    Instead of: “This is a busy time for the company, so make sure you get all your ducks in a row.”

    Try saying: “This is a busy time for the company, so make sure you’re as organized as possible.”

    Thinking outside the box

    Often used to encourage people to use novel or creative thinking. The phrase is commonly used when solving problems or thinking of a new concept. The idea is that, if you’re inside a box, you can only see those walls and that might block you from coming up with the best solution.

    Instead of: “The client is looking for something extra special, so try thinking outside the box.”

    Try saying: “The client is looking for something extra special, so try thinking of something a bit different to the usual work we do for them.”

    IGUs (Income Generating Units)

    A college principal alerted us to this one – it refers to his students. This is a classic example of jargon when many more words are used than necessary.

    Instead of: “This year, we have 300 new IGUs.”

    Try saying: “This year, we have 300 new students.”

    Run it up the flagpole

    Often followed by “…and see if it flies” or “…and see if anyone salutes it”, this phrase is a way of asking someone to suggest an idea and see what the reaction is.

    Instead of: “I love your idea, run it up the flagpole and see if it flies.”

    Try saying: “I love your idea, see what the others think about it.”

    Swim lane

    A visual element – a bit like a flow chart –  that distinguishes a specific responsibility in a business organization. The name for a swim lane diagram comes from the fact that the information is broken up into different sections – or “lanes” – a bit like in our picture above.

    Instead of: “Refer to the swim lanes to find out what your responsibilities are.”

    Try saying: “Refer to the diagram/chart to find out what your responsibilities are.”

    Bleeding edge

    A way to describe something that is innovative or cutting edge. It tends to imply an even greater advancement of technology that is almost so clever that it is unbelievable in its current state.

    Instead of: “The new technology we have purchased is bleeding edge.”

    Try saying: “The new technology we have purchased is innovative.”

    Tiger team

    A tiger team is a group of experts brought together for a single project or event. They’re often assembled to assure management that everything is under control, and the term suggests strength.

    Instead of: “The tiger team will solve the problem.” 

    Try saying: “The experts will solve the problem.” 

    Lots of moving parts

    When a project is complicated, this phrase is sometimes used to indicate lots is going on.

    Instead of: “This project will run for several months and there are lots of moving parts to it.”

    Try saying: “This project will run for several months and it will be complicated.”

    A paradigm shift

    Technically, this is a valid way to describe changing how you do something and the model you use. The word “paradigm” (pronounced “para-dime”) is an accepted way or pattern of doing something. So the “shift” part means that a possible new way has been discovered. Non-native speakers, however, might not be familiar with the meaning and might be confused about what it actually means.

    Instead of: “To solve this problem, we need a paradigm shift.”

    Try saying: To solve this problem; we need to think differently.”