Business|Adults|Intermediate|8. Working across the cultures. Revision


Answer the questions

1. What excuses do people make when they say «no»?

2. Have you ever had to say «no», but been embarrassed?

3. Have you ever said «yes» to a request, but later wished you had said «no»?

4. When is it rude to say «no» in your country?

Listen to the first part of a short talk by a cross-cultural communications expert. Complete these five tips for saying «no» politely



Many of you will travel tо foreign countries on business or go to international conferences and sales fairs. Some of you may end up living and working in a foreign country. For all of you, cultural and social awareness will be important if you want to become effective communicators when you’re abroad. Today, I’m going to look at saying «no» politely.

Whenever you say «yes» to a request, you are doing so at a cost. That cost is usually your time. Sometimes you just have to say «no». I remember two embarrassing occasions when I had to say «no». One was in Finland, when a business friend invited me to a sauna. I just felt uncomfortable. The other was in Hungary, a country where it’s sometimes OK to share private details. Someone asked me something rather personal. Again, I felt a bit uncomfortable.

In the first part of my talk, I’m going to look at five tips for saying «no» politely. Firstly, pay attention. Listen carefully and make sure you don’t say «no» before the other person has even finished making their request. Listen to the request with an open mind.

Secondly, offer alternatives. You may even be able to recommend someone else who is more suitable.

Thirdly, show sympathy if someone asks you to do something that you can’t do. Show that you genuinely wanted to help.

Next, be as clear as possible to avoid misunderstandings. Don’t say ‘maybe’ when you really mean «no».

And finally, avoid long reasons and excuses. Sometimes the less you say, the better.

The times I have had to say «no» the most is when customers have wanted huge discounts. As long as you can say «no» politely with a smile, followed by a genuine «I’m sorry», then you should be fine.

Listen to the second part of the talk, which looks at saying «no» in different countries. Decide whether these statements are True or False. Be ready to explain why the False ones are incorrect


In the second part of my talk, I’ll look at saying «no» in different countries. Japanese people hate saying «no». They don’t even like using negative endings to verbs and they don’t like any confrontation. So it’s important to look at their non-verbal communication. They believe in harmony. They think that turning down someone’s request causes embarrassment and loss of face to the other person. Many negotiators have come away from meetings in Japan thinking they have got agreement when in fact they haven’t.

Indonesians can also communicate indirectly. They don’t like to cause anyone embarrassment by giving a negative answer, so the listener has to work out what they really mean. In fact, Bahasa Indonesian has 12 ways of saying «no» and also other ways оf saying «yes» when the real meaning is «nо».

The Chinese will often avoid saying «no». They have an expression which means «we’ll do some research and discuss it later», which is a polite way of saying «no». Silence in China can also imply that there are problems. Silence in the Arab world is quite common, however, and does not necessarily mean «no». The Arab world does not find silence difficult.

However, saying «no» in the wrong situations can have bad consequences.

An American business friend of mine once refused a cup of coffee from а Saudi businessman at the start of a meeting. In America, that wouldn’t have been a problem. But this was seen as rather rude by the Saudi host and the meeting was unsuccessful. My friend should have accepted the coffee and just had a small cup. I’ll now move on to…

Match the invitations and requests to the responses


Listen and repeat the phrases


— Would you like to go out for a meal later?
— Thanks for the invitation, but I’m not feeling so well. Maybe some other time.

— Would you like some more food?
— Nothing more for me, thanks. It was delicious.

— Shall we meet up next Tuesday?
— I’m sorry, I’d love to, but I have other plans that evening.

— Please stay a little bit longer.
— I’ve had a wonderful time and I wish I could, but I really have to go.

— Can you check that the fire-exit notices are all in the right place, please?
— I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong person. You’ll have to ask Ingrid in Health and Safety.


Role play these situations

Remember the recommendations for polite refusals:

  1. Pay attention
  2. Offer alternatives
  3. Show sympathy
  4. Be clear
  5. Avoid long reasons and excuses

Situation 1

You are at the restaurant. You do not drink alcohol. Say «no» politely.

Situation 2

You are at work. Your colleague asks you for help. You are very busy, and this is not your job. Suggest your colleague asks Freya to help.

Situation 3

You are a client of a company. Their investment director is calling you. You cannot attend this event because you have already accepted another invitation. But you want to maintain a good relationship and you would like to attend another event in the future.

Situation 4

You’re visiting some of your business contacts where they offer you lamb, but you hate this kind of meat. Say «no» politely. Say you are happy with just rice and vegetables.

Situation 5

Your colleague asks you for help. You are very busy. You have to prepare for a meeting with your boss in an hour.

Situation 6

You are in a country where it is common to go out to eat late at night. Your business contact invites you for a meal. You are very tired and need to prepare for an important meeting tomorrow.

Choose the best word to complete each sentence


Complete each conversation with can, could or would. Use each word once in each conversation

Match the halves of the expressions


Match the halves of the expressions

Complete the text below with the words


Mark the odd word/phrase in each group

Read these tennis-court rules, then tick the right sentence in each pair below


Before you start

These exercises can be done as a test to estimate how well you have learnt the material from the previous lessons, or as a revision.

If you are planning to do it as a test, please, sum up the correct answers on a piece of paper.

Listen to a short speech by Henry Becker, CEO of Hendix Corporation. Choose the best word or phrase to complete the sentences


Good morning. My name is Henry Becker and, as you all know, I’m the CEO of Hendix Corporation.

My purpose today is to welcome you to Hendix Corporation. I’ll begin today by congratulating you on joining the company. Next, I’ll discuss the company’s expectations for its employees. Finally, I’ll talk about what makes Hendix Corporation a good company to work for.

So, first, congratulations. As recent graduates, you have all chosen to begin your careers with one of the world’s most respected manufacturing companies. The job market is tough these days and there is a lot of competition for every job. So you’ve already achieved a lot, just being here today.

Moving on to expectations, each of you has a different reason for choosing to join our company and different expectations of the job. However, the company has one main expectation for all of you: that you will always work to make the company better. Better how? What makes a «good» company? Well, our company motto is «Honesty, quality and innovation».

Honesty. As a company, we believe in being fair and honest in business. This means we expect our employees to deal honestly and fairly in every part of their work.

Quality. We make some of the best products on the market in our sector. Why? Because we expect our employees to think about quality in everything they do.

Innovation. This means always changing and improving. We improve as a company because we expect our employees to always make small improvements in the way we work.

Right. So what makes Hendix Corporation a good company to work for?

First, we’re committed to teamwork and to fair treatment of all employees.

Second, we give our employees a quality workplace. We provide the best training and tools for our employees. This means you can do your job well and it also means you can develop and follow a career path that we decide together.

Third, we listen. Some of our best ideas come from our employees. At Hendix, you and your ideas are one of the company’s most important assets.

Once again, welcome to Hendix Corporation.

Complete the text with the words from the box


Choose the correct word to complete each sentence

Урок Homework Курс
  • Warm-up
  • Cross-cultural communication
  • Invitations and responses
  • Say «no» politely
  • Revision «Careers»
  • «On the phone» phrases
  • Revision «Companies»
  • Revision «Selling»
  • Check your listening skills
  • Check your vocabulary
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  6. 6. Business|Adults|Intermediate|6. Sales skills
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  32. 32. Business|Adults|Advanced|19. Evaluating risks
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