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Meetings In English: Business English Etiquette – The Unspoken Rules You Never Knew You Needed

Welcome to the Conversation Club!

Today, we dig deep into Business English Etiquette—the unspoken rules that can make or break your professional relationships. We’ve lined up some engaging questions, and we invite you to share your experiences, learn new idioms and expressions, and engage in a lively debate about professional do’s and don’ts.

Prepared for you by: My Personal English Coach

Try using these idioms during the Club session today!

  • Break the ice 🧊
    • Definition: To start a conversation in a social setting to make everyone feel more comfortable.
    • Example: It’s good to break the ice with a joke when you start a meeting.
  • Get down to business 💼
    • Definition: To focus on the task at hand.
    • Example: After the introductions, we got down to business.
  • Beat around the bush 🌳
    • Definition: To avoid talking about what is important.
    • Example: Stop beating around the bush and get to the point.
  • Cut to the chase ✂️
    • Definition: To get to the point without wasting time.
    • Example: Let’s cut to the chase; we need to finalise the budget today.
  • Throw someone under the bus 🚌
    • Definition: To betray someone for your own gain.
    • Example: I can’t believe he threw me under the bus during the meeting to save himself.
  • On the same page 📖
    • Definition: To be in agreement.
    • Example: Before we proceed, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.
  • Move the needle 📈
    • Definition: To make a noticeable difference.
    • Example: This new marketing strategy could really move the needle.
  • Read between the lines 📚
    • Definition: To understand the hidden or unspoken meaning.
    • Example: If you read between the lines, you’ll see that they’re not so eager to implement the changes.
  • Ballpark figure
    • Definition: A rough numerical estimate.
    • Example: Can you give us a ballpark figure for the project cost?
  • Burn the midnight oil 🕯️
    • Definition: To work late into the night or early morning.
    • Example: We burned the midnight oil to meet the deadline.

Round 1 – Let’s Warm Up

According to the authors of the article:

5 Workplace Etiquette Tips Every Professional Should Know

We all should remember to:

  1. Make a Good First Impression
  2. Avoid Gossip.
  3. Communicate. It is Key.
  4. Understand your Work Environment.
  5. Be Personable Yet Professional

Choose 1 and tell your partner about a time you or someone you know BROKE or did not follow this rule. How did the story end?

Round 2: Let’s Explore it!

  1. What unspoken rules have you observed in professional settings?
  2. How do you gauge the level of formality required in a business meeting?
  3. Why do you think punctuality is considered a form of business etiquette?

To gauge (pronounced like ‘geɪdʒ’) means to measure or assess a particular aspect, quantity, or feeling. EG: The manager tried to gauge the team’s reaction to the new policy.

Round 3: Ready to role-play?


Student A: You’re a new employee who is unsure about the office etiquette in an international setting.

Student B: You’re a seasoned employee who is familiar with various unspoken rules in business settings.

Discuss the different unspoken rules and etiquette you’ve encountered and how they vary from one country to another. Make sure to use some of the idioms and expressions listed above in your discussion. Time: 6 minutes.

Remember – there is always more! Here is your Follow Up Video:

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