Office Soft Skills, the book


A tutorial is a lesson given by a tutor. The Office Soft Skills books are like a tutor: you take quizzes based on common office situations and check your scores. Then you turn to the tutorial part of the book, the Answer Key, for discussion of any questions that interest you. The explanations you find there are based on up-to-date research. They reflect the opinions and results of many employment surveys, business reporters, professors, cross-cultural and etiquette experts and others.

With the Office Soft Skills books you can learn the unwritten rules of good communication skills and business etiquette. It isn’t easy to discover many of these unwritten business customs. Managers and clients expect you to know proper business etiquette already. And your North American colleagues are usually too polite or too busy to tell you your mistakes.

 

You can buy the Office Soft Skills books through English Central (Canada, U.S. and international sales) by phone (1-866-518-4170) or online at www.englishcentral.net

 

 

 

 

 

 What you can learn

 

 

You can learn how to express yourself well and act politely in many situations. For example, in North American business culture, it is important how you

Participate in meetings
Introduce yourself
Speak your voicemail message

 

 

 

   
   
   

The topics below refer to the online tutorials for Joan Bartel's students. Her Office Soft Skills books, available to the public, contain most of the same content. See the page "I have a question" for more details on that content.

Unit 1: BUSINESS MEETINGS & GREETINGS. A vocabulary list is available to learn before you start. Click on one of the tutorial units on the left or scroll down to find the topics and vocabulary lists.

 

The organization of the tutorial Units

Each Unit has interesting quiz questions about business situations where you can show what you know – not just a list of facts and figures. Then compare your answers with the experts’ explanations. Your knowledge of polite expressions and proper business etiquette will expand quickly.

When you finish working through the quiz questions, you can get your score, the Language Tips in the tutorial, and two lists of examples of idioms for each Unit. They will be sent to the email address you enter. You can download them and review them later to refresh your memory.

 

UNIT 1. BUSINESS MEETINGS & GREETINGS

Are you ever late for work?

How often do you think the average North American office worker is late? And what will the boss say when the latecomer finally arrives? Also: How will your boss respond if you can’t finish your work by the deadline? Can you ask your co-workers to help if you can’t finish on time?  In Unit I, Part 1 “Time & Meetings,” you will learn about the importance of time in North American business culture. You will also be asked about manners (good etiquette) and participation at meetings.

In Part 2, “Greetings,” you can show your knowledge of proper face-to-face introductions: What do you say? Who starts? What should you do if you don’t know someone’s name?
And there is another kind of introduction which many business people aren’t careful about: the voicemail message. It introduces you to every telephone caller – learn the important factors to consider when you record yours.

Outline of Unit 1. Business Meetings & Greetings

TIME AND MEETINGS GREETINGS SENT TO YOU AT THE END
Punctuality Introductions Idioms& Expressions: Time
Deadlines Handshakes Idioms & Expressions: Work
Nonverbal Behaviour Voicemail Language Tips for Unit 1
Participating in Meetings

“How’re things?”          References for Tutorial I

 

Below are some words that will help you understand the quiz situations and answers in Unit 1. These are only the most difficult words in the unit. 
Everything else is easier to understand.

 

Advanced Vocabulary in Part 1: TIME & MEETINGS

NOUNS VERBS
deadline to annoy to make a point
issue to burp to meet the deadline
objection to consider to resign
punctuality to groan to respond
quiz to interrupt to slump
sarcasm to lean back to yawn

Advanced Vocabulary in Part 2: GREETINGS

NOUNS VERBS ADJECTIVE
branch office to address someone customary
etiquette to extend your hand domineering
gender to get back to you limp
harassment to redirect  
  to reflect  
  to squeeze  
 
 

UNIT 2: Saying & Doing the Right Thing at Work

Is it OK to send a personal email from work? And can my boss read it if I do?

In Unit 2, Part 1, “Language,” you will learn about polite – and impolite – language in the workplace, with examples of expressions of both. You will also read about etiquette regarding language use in a multi-lingual workplace.

In Part 2, “Ethics,” some questions of right and wrong in the workplace are answered. For example, using the computer at work for personal emailing, accepting gifts or blaming other people at work for bad results. It also answers the question “What does “greenwashing” mean – and who is doing it?” You will find good expressions to use when you are talking to your boss, for example, when the boss gives bad instructions. Using appropriate language can help you get ahead!

Outline of Unit 2: SAYING & DOING THE RIGHT THING AT WORK

LANGUAGE ETHICS SENT TO YOU AT THE END
Languages at Work For Personal Use? Idioms& Expressions: Words
Polite Language: RSVP Free Speech Idioms & Expressions: Right
& Sorry Environmentally Friendly & Wrong
Four-Letter Words Blame Language Tips for Unit 2
Polite Requests References for Unit 2  

Below are some words that will help you to understand the quiz situations and answers.
These are the advanced-level words in the Unit. The rest of the vocabulary is easier.

 

Advanced Vocabulary in Part 1: LANGUAGE

NOUNS VERBS ADJECTIVES
dismissal issues to apologize enforced
diversity policy to speak up mild
extension rank to swear offensive
feedback regret to take a day off  
file cabinet seniority    
four-letter words swear    

Advanced Vocabulary in Part 2: ETHICS

NOUNS VERBS ADJECTIVES & ADVERB
applicant to blame ethical
blame to cite loyal
blog to greenwash potential
conflict of interest to monitor strict
recipient to take initiative otherwise
theft    
 

UNIT 3. Business Social Skills & Etiquette

The company is having a staff party – do I have to go?

Do you know social customs and etiquette rules for North American business events? In Part 1, “Socializing,” you will learn about polite manners and impolite behaviour at staff parties, charity events and other business social occasions. You can also read about how and when – or if – it’s OK to compliment someone at work and what words are appropriate.

Then take the etiquette quizzes in Part 2, “Dinner Invitation.” If you don’t know the proper rules for dining in North America, now is a good time to find out! Learn, as well, some of the customs for visiting someone’s home (including vocabulary for the bathroom), taking children to events and declining a dinner invitation.

Outline of Unit 3. BUSINESS SOCIAL SKILLS & ETIQUETTE

SOCIALIZING DINNER INVITATION SENT TO YOU AT THE END
Company Events Dining Etiquette Idioms & Expressions:
Party No-No’s Diet    Partying
Leaving Early No Children? Idioms & Expressions: Food
Compliments At the Boss’ House Language Tips for Unit 3
Idioms & Expressions: Idioms & Expressions:  
Partying Food  
  References for Unit 3  

Below are some words that will help you to understand the quiz situations and answers

 

Vocabulary in Part 1: SOCIALIZING

NOUNS VERBS MODIFIERS
appearance to benefit drunk
charity to burp competitive
donation to donate in need
entry level position to flirt  
event to get along with  
gossip to interrupt  
sexual harassment to network  
spouse to slurp  
  to wow someone  

Vocabulary in Part 2: DINNER INVITATION

NOUNS VERBS ADJECTIVES
appetizers to decline awkward
child care arrangements to embarrass curious
babysitter to follow a diet forbidden
diet to imply messy
host   strict
main dish    
toast    
 
 
TUTORIAL 2. Office Soft Skills: How to get along and get ahead in your career

UNIT 1. Looking & Feeling Good at the Office

How can I dress to make a good (first) impression? Are shoes important? Hair? A smile?

The answers to these questions are complex. Discover more in Part 1, Looking Good, and learn useful vocabulary about business clothes.

In Part 2 Wellness, read the answers to questions like: Do North Americans stay home when they don’t feel well -- or force themselves to go to work to support the team? Is an office romance OK -- or is it dangerous fun? Why are sports important in the business world? Find out some popular office conversation topics, too, so you can be prepared to join in and get along with your co-workers.

Outline of Unit 1: Looking & Feeling Good at the Office

LOOKING GOOD WELLNESS SENT TO YOU AT THE END
Clothing Take a Sick Day? Idioms & Expressions:
Footwear Heart & Happiness Clothes
Unfashionable Colleague Sports at Work Idioms from Sports
Idioms & Expressions: Idioms from Sports Language Tips from Unit 1
Clothes References for Unit 1  

Below are some words that will help you to understand the quiz situations and answers.These are the advanced-level words in the Unit. The rest of the vocabulary is easier.

 

Vocabulary in Part 1: LOOKING GOOD

NOUNS VERBS MODIFIERS
allergy fashion sense to criticize dressy
appearance grooming to match likely
attractiveness harassment to overdress wrinkled
blazer odor/odour to vary  
client shoe sole    
compliment tendency    
deodorant trend    
dress code vest    

Vocabulary in Part 2: WELLNESS

NOUNS VERBS MODIFIERS 
absentee mood to exclude considerate
bonding objective to shovel snow distracted
favouritism romance to sneeze slightly more
germs time off to take a nap  
gym workload to yawn  
lack of      
 
 
Unit 2. Talking With Your Colleagues & Boss


When the boss gives me feedback, how should I respond?

Do you know how to share office space without annoying your co-workers? Are you sure that you’re a good teammate with your North American colleagues? Take the quizzes in Part 1 and find out!

In Part 2 get some advice on how to communicate effectively with your boss – even if he or she is sarcastic or rude. And read about how bosses give feedback in North America, and how they expect you to respond.

Outline of Unit 2: TALKING WITH YOUR COLLEAGUES & BOSS
 
SHARING OFFICE SPACE THE BOSS SENT TO YOU AT THE END
Cubicle Etiquette
Teamwork
Advising a New Colleague
Idioms & Types: People
Good Boss / Bad Boss
Ask / Don’t Ask
Feedback
Idioms & Expressions: Negotiating
References for Unit 2
Idioms & Types: People
Idioms & Expressions: Negotiating
Language Tips for Unit 2

Below are some words that will help you to understand the quiz situations and answers. These are the advanced words. The rest of the vocabulary is easier.

Advanced Vocabulary in Part 1: SHARING OFFICE SPACE
NOUNS VERBS MODIFIERS
accomplishment to annoy abrupt
allergy to avoid accountable
cubicle to be tired of something further
distinction to bother somebody likable/likeable
goodwill to get along up to par
hangover to ignore  
odor/odour to pay attention  
task to tend to (+ verb)  

Advanced Vocabulary in Part 2: THE BOSS
NOUNS VERB PHRASES MODIFIERS
feedback to assume defensive
hierarchy to come on too strong harsh
sarcasm to evaluate sarcastic
  to over-generalize subtle
  to overreact wishy-washy
  to take initiative  

 
Unit 3. Technology & Email Etiquette


I get emails and phone calls from work at home in the evening – do I have to answer them?

In Part 1, “Technology Today,” first you will compare your telephone habits with North American business customs and etiquette. For example, can you talk on the phone and do something else at the same time – and should you? You can also read whether (or how much) people surf the internet at work in Canada, the U.S. and other countries – and how employers react. Then you can learn how many office workers and professionals think it’s necessary to stay connected to work in the evening and even on vacation. Knowing these customs can help you keep your job.

Do you get too many emails at work?Find out who likes to get and send email at the office. Part 2, Email Etiquette,” also explains the difference between formal and informal email language. You will get a list of business email abbreviations, as well as idioms and Language Tips for email, voicemail and customer service.

Outline of Unit 3: TECHNOLOGY & EMAIL ETIQUETTE
 
TECHNOLOGY TODAY EMAIL ETIQUETTE SENT TO YOU AT THE END
Phone Etiquette
Surfing at Work
Connected 24/7
Idioms & Expressions:
“It doesn’t work.”
Too Many Emails?
Openings & Closings
What’s Wrong with This Email?
Idioms & Abbreviations for Email
References for Unit 3
Idioms & Expressions:
“It doesn’t work.”
Idioms & Abbreviations for
Email
Language Tips for Unit 3

Below are some words that will help you to understand the quiz situations and answers. These are only the more advanced words. Everything else is easier to understand.

Advanced Vocabulary in Part 1: TECHNOLOGY TODAY
NOUNS VERBS ADJECTIVES
access to abuse annoying
blog to accuse digital
branch office to answer the phone typical
device to deal with something  
emergency to distract  
interruption to follow up  
manners to monitor  
networking to multi-task  
overload to take vacation time  
peak     
tag (a game)    
     

Advanced Vocabulary in Part 2: EMAIL ETIQUETTE
NOUNS VERB PHRASES ADJECTIVE
distraction to affect somebody considerate
recipient to fill somebody in  
  to make a good impression  
  to spend time on an activity  

 

Every culture has its own customs of proper business etiquette and polite language. Each Unit of the books has interesting quiz questions about business situations where you can show what you know – not just a list of facts and figures. Then compare your answers with the experts’ explanations. Your knowledge of polite expressions and proper business etiquette will expand quickly.

 

Your manners and language influence how others see you. Learning business soft skills and office etiquette will help you to “get along and get ahead in your career.”

You can buy the books through English Central (Canada, U.S. and international sales) by phone (1-866-518-4170) or online at www.englishcentral.net