Help Me To Wait For Your Timing And Purpose
6 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Learning Business English
By Sarah Li Cain
Your palms are sweaty. You re-adjust your tie, waiting for the meeting to start.
When everyone arrives, you start your presentation. You are so worried about mispronouncing words that you barely speak loud enough for your audience to hear.
After your talk, you worry about whether people understood your message and if your boss is still considering you for that promotion.
Does this sound familiar? Perhaps you are stressed by conference calls in English, writing reports or mountains of email?
The fact that you are reading this means that you are working hard at improving your Business English skills, but there are 6 common mistakes that might be holding you back.
Are you making one of these crucial mistakes?
1. Use Tried and True Methods
There is a wealth of resources out there, so why stress yourself out and spend so much time trying to craft the perfect email or presentation when you can use a template?
Using a template doesn’t mean that you are being lazy. In fact, using what has worked for you and others in the past makes you more effective.
Instead of worrying about the format of your email or presentation, spend that time editing your work to make sure everything is grammatically correct.
Here’s an example to help with your emails. Feel free to copy and paste it into your next email:
|1) State the purpose of the email.||Example 1:Hello Alice. I am writing to you because I need your help with typing up a press release.Example 2:Hello Bill. I would to schedule that meeting to finalize our presentation to Mr. Smith.|
|2) Provide details of what you need done. Make sure that you convey concisely all the details needed.To make it clearer for the reader, separate items with bullets, and write subheadings for different topics.||Example 1:Here are the steps I need you to take in order to complete this task:– Please read over the notes I have attached to this email.– Please expand upon these points into three paragraphs or less.– There are two people you need to talk to get quotes for this press release. The names are in the notes I attached.– Once completed, please email me the press release in a Word document.Example 2:I’ve included some times I am available below:Wednesday: 11:30-12:00 or 2:30-3:00Thursday: 9:00-10:00 or 1:00-2:30Friday: 10:00-11:00Please pick a time that is most convenient for you. If none of these work, please let me know when you are free and I’ll try to arrange something.|
|3) Write a conclusion for your message. This is where you write what you would to happen. Review any actions and next steps required on the reader’s part, and any key points needed.||Example 1:Please email me the completed press release by next week Friday (May 24). We have a strict deadline so I would appreciate it if you could get this to me on time.Example 2:Please let me know by this afternoon so I can schedule the meeting.|
|4) Include your email signature if your email program doesn’t automatically do it for you.Make sure that it includes all information such as your full name, contact information, and position in the company.||Example:Sincerely,Bob SmithCEO of ABC Company Inc.123 Apple Road, New York City, USATel: (123) 456-7890Email: [email protected]|
Example subject lines for your emails
Your email subject should include the topic and purpose of the email. The topic should come first, followed by purpose separated by two dashes.
- Responding to a request: When replying to a message, be as specific as possible about the action. The purpose should include the words “the [action or item] you requested”.
Example: “Company Logo – The edit you requested”
- Seeking help or action: the purpose should include words such as “action requested”. Be as specific as possible when work should be completed.
Example: “Edit Company Logo – Action Requested: complete by 8/30”
- Giving information: Since no action is required by the receiver, you can simply use the words “please review”, or “No action required”.
Example: “New Company Logo – No action required”
Template for your business presentations:
- Start your presentation with talking about who you are, the purpose of the presentation, the main areas you will be presenting, and why the subject is important to the audience.
- In the main part of your presentation, present points to support the main areas. Make sure you explain difficult concepts such as new terminology. To make it easier in you and your audience, try to explain concepts by comparing it to something familiar (such as an analogy) and present all statistics as visually as possible.
- For your conclusion, tie everything together by summarizing your main points and explain the importance of your presentation again, then ask them to take some sort of action.
- If time permits, have a question and answer period. You can use this as an opportunity to clarify or expand on points you may have missed.
For using English on the telephone, here is a slideshow with some template phrases you can use:
2. Focus on Effective Communication Skills
“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
– George Bernard Shaw
How you say something is just as important as what you say – if not more important!
Even if English isn’t your first language, it is still important to develop excellent communication skills in order to convey your message clearly.
Who would your clients rather listen to: someone who speaks softly and mispronounce most of the words during their presentation, or someone who stands tall, speaks confidently and fluently?
While it is important to learn new vocabulary and different expressions, you need to practice in order to master them.
Here are 5 ways you can improve your communication skills:
- Volunteer to do presentations or other activities where you have a chance to interact with English speaking colleagues.
- Actively participate in conference calls or meetings to try out new material you learned.
- When giving a presentation, practice what you have to say well in advance. Check your body language in front of a mirror. Practice speaking out loud. Make sure you understand how to pronounce every single word.
- Make eye contact and listen carefully when speaking with colleagues.
- Join Toastmasters or other organizations where you can practice speaking in front of others.
3. Ask for Feedback
No matter what stage you are in learning English, there is always room to improve. Asking for feedback from your teacher or colleagues will help you learn from your mistakes. Most people are more than happy to give you constructive feedback, including your peers.
If you are not comfortable asking for feedback, try asking a trusted friend first for some comments about a recent email you wrote, or ask them to listen to a presentation you will give.
Build up the courage to ask your teacher or your colleagues one-on-one until you feel comfortable asking questions in front of a group of people.
Consistently seeking feedback at work can be seen by your boss as a sign that you are ambitious and goal driven. This might help you score that promotion that you’ve always wanted!
4. Don’t Take Learning Too Seriously
“That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”
– Albert Einstein, letter to his son
The more you enjoy and relax into the process of learning, the easier and more enjoyable it will be. You will be more motivated to learn and improve on what you already know.
- Incorporate English into your hobbies. For example, if you building model airplanes, try to construct one using instructions in English. Join an English-speaking group. You could even read fashion magazines, or watch football shows in English.
- Learn to laugh at your own mistakes.
- Take some time to practice English by watching comedy shows
- Set boundaries, such as only studying during scheduled sessions and not bringing study materials with you on vacation.
5. The World is Your Classroom
There is a world of possibilities to learn English outside of a classroom. Learning English in the real world is a better way to be exposed constantly to new ideas and concepts.
Here are some ideas about other places where you can learn Business English:
- Read industry specific blogs and trade magazines
- Follow colleagues or other relevant people on (for example you can find us at @TJTaylorEnglish)
- Network at industry conferences
- Socialize with your international colleagues
6. Develop Effective Study Habits
Many Business English students haven’t stepped foot inside a classroom for a while, so it is natural to forget good study habits.
The more you understand and apply good study habits, the greater your chances of success.
What would you rather do: study for many hours and get frustrated at the lack of progress, or study effectively for a few hours and make real progress in your English?
Here are some tips on developing effective study habits:
- Create a space specifically for you to study: Make sure your space is used only for studying and has no distractions. Keep your desk clean and find a comfortable chair. Associating a space in your house that is solely for study helps you mentally prepare and focus.
- Schedule a time to study – and stick to it: Learning to prioritize and manage your time is crucial. Block off time in your agenda, phone or calendar so others can’t schedule meetings with you. If you communicate to them why this is important to you, they will be supportive and respect your time. Post your study schedule where everyone can see it so they know not to disturb you.
- Take frequent breaks: It is important to give your brain a rest so you don’t tire or stress yourself out from studying for long periods of time. Something as simple as stretching for 5 minutes, taking a walk or even eating a snack can help.
- Start with the most difficult topic: Harder materials usually mean that these are the areas you need to focus on. Also, your brain is still fresh at the beginning of your study session. Work towards easier material at the end.
- Take care of your health: A lack of sleep means lower concentration and and you will remember less of what you studied.
- Focus on quality over quantity: Studying more does not mean that you will learn more. Also, studying in small batches is more effective than sitting for long periods of time. Work on practicing your English for 5-10 minutes every day.
Ready to Get Started?
If you follow these 6 tips, you will start to notice a huge difference in the way you interact in English with colleagues and clients.
You will appear more confident in front of others and become more active and visible in your company. You may even gain some valuable professional relationships.
Remember, to put you on the path to success:
- Use templates for emails and presentations
- Work on perfecting your communication skills
- Constantly seek feedback
- Don’t take learning too seriously
- Learn English from the real world around you every day
- Develop good study habits
Which of these do you identify with?
Start by focusing on one of these mistakes and fix it today. Set some goals, and after 1 week review how you have corrected that mistake.
Start by making small goals for this week. Go ahead – open up your calendar now and schedule in a study time.
Which of these mistakes do you think is the most important? What other common mistakes would you include? Leave a comment below and let us know.
7 Clever Ways to Say “I Look Forward to Hearing from You”
You sent an important email and you’re eager to get a reply. You end your message with “I look forward to hearing from you.” Did you make an email faux pas?
Is It Okay to Use “Looking Forward to Hearing From You”?
Whether or not to use “I look forward to hearing from you” or “I’m looking forward to hearing from you” depends on the context and purpose of your letter.
- It’s friendly and familiar.
- It lets the recipient know that you’re hoping for a response.
- It’s a bit canned. Everyone uses it, so your recipient might ignore it.
- In certain contexts, it can come across as passive-aggressive code for “Get back to me, or else.”
- It puts you in the waiting position, unable to move forward until you hear from the other person.
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Although plenty of business emails end with this phrase, there are better options. At best, “Looking forward to hearing from you” is invisible—a standard closing phrase that recipients tend to disregard.
(When was the last time you read “I look forward to hearing from you” and thought Gee, how nice! I think I’ll respond immediately? Right. You see what we’re saying.
) At worst, it’s presumptuous and even a bit snarky.
RELATED: How to End an Email: 9 Best and Worst Email Sign-Offs
1 Use a call-to-action
Good email communication eliminates guesswork for the recipient. The problem with “I look forward to hearing from you” is that it removes you from the active role and puts you in a subservient one. Now, you’re just waiting passively for a response rather than moving the email thread forward, and your recipient may not even know what you want from them. No bueno.
Instead, prompt your recipient to make a specific move. Here are a few examples:
I plan to hand off this graphic to our design team by Friday. Would you please send me your feedback by Wednesday?
Let’s meet at Emilio’s for lunch. Does 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday work for you?
Would you me to send you our research when it’s finalized?
Please pass this info along to your teammates. Thanks!
Good email communication eliminates guesswork for the recipient.
2 I’m eager to receive your feedback
If you don’t have a hard deadline (“Get back to me by Wednesday”), closing your email with a request for feedback is perfectly appropriate. Just keep in mind that this sort of closing is a bit softer than requesting input by a specific date. It works best if you’re hoping for a reply, but you’re not necessarily expecting it.
A more casual request would be something , “I value your feedback, so let me know what you think!”
READ: The 15 Most Common Email Mistakes of 2017
3 I appreciate your quick response
It’s okay to use this alternative when you want an answer as soon as possible, but you don’t have a time constraint. It gives the recipient a bit more of a nudge than “I look forward to hearing from you.”
This is another closing that can sound pushy in the wrong context. If your email has a friendly tone overall, then the sign-off will sound friendly. In a more business setting, it could seem more a stern warning: “I expect a reply.”
4 Always happy to hear from you
This one says “Hey, my inbox is always open!” It’s breezy and informal, and it works well for recipients you have an ongoing dialog with. This closing doesn’t insist on an answer, so use it only when you’d welcome a response but you don’t need one.
Here’s a tip:Which one is grammatically correct: “I look forward to hearing from you” or “I’m looking forward to hearing from you”?
They’re both correct, but one of them uses more active language. Am looking is weaker sentence construction—looking requires an auxiliary (helper) verb, (am), in order to make sense. I look forward is a better choice.
Sometimes, you need a reply only when the status of a project changes. In these cases, it’s appropriate to end with something “Keep me informed of any updates.” Go ahead and be as insistent as you need to be. If it’s critical that you receive project updates, say so.You’re not messing around here. You need a reply yesterday. Save this closing for when your recipient has delayed and you need to be firm and no-nonsense.
But be aware that this closing conveys a serious, even angry, tone. When you use it, you’re doing the written equivalent of glaring at someone while tapping your foot and saying, “Well? I’m waiting.” Use it sparingly.
Unless, of course, you work in the collections department.
In less formal emails, “Write soon” is a cheerful sign-off that lets the correspondent know you’d to hear from them without actually demanding action. Use it for friendly communication, such as writing to a close friend or relative. Just keep it your business communication; it’s far too casual.
How to Wait (For Anything) Well
It’s a reality I try to ignore most of the time: Life is full of waiting. I’m not talking about the kind of waiting that bothers but doesn’t overtake me: the time in the grocery store line, the time at the post office, or even the miles crawling through construction. I mean the deep soul waiting, the kind that threatens to undo me with its consistency and pain.
We all know this type of waiting — the type that causes our hearts to ache and our minds to unravel:
The wait for a spouse who hasn’t yet materialized.
The wait for a job that will fulfill and not exhaust us.
The wait for a desired child when our womb is barren.
The wait for stability when our mind betrays us with anxieties and depression.
The wait for reconciliation in a relationship that still strains with hurt.
The wait for healing in a body still weak and broken.
In our own ways and through our own experiences, all of us know the deep yearning that waiting births in us — the ways that waiting makes us question our purpose and our dreams and our hopes. Left to linger for months and years, waiting can become a place of sorrow, even of fear.
So how do we wait well? How do we learn to live in these seasons of waiting — knowing we have no clear end in sight — with hope? Even with joy?
I’ve waited for healing from a stubborn medical condition for over twenty years, and I’ve shared my story on the page: There’s no easy answer. But here are three ways I’ve found to wait well, no matter how long we’re waiting for what we deeply desire:
1. We wait well by acknowledging our desire rather than ignoring it
In the long seasons of waiting for the things we can’t always control — a spouse, a child, healing, wholeness — one of the best ways to wait well is to embrace the longing rather than run from it. It seems counterintuitive, to accept what we can’t (yet) have, but it’s part of living wholeheartedly rather than locking our hearts away.
This is because waiting unlocks our truest desires, and we can only uncover those if we sit in the waiting long enough. We might truly want a spouse, but beneath that desire may be the deeper desire of wanting to be loved for who we really are — the longing for acceptance and delight from another person.
That’s a good desire, but it won’t be ultimately satisfied through a wedding or a significant other. No single person on earth can meet that longing completely. But the waiting can help us reach a place of being willing to see where else we can have that longing met — in friendships, in community, in God.
We can’t usually create the answer to what we’re waiting for. We can’t make a husband or a child appear thin air. But we can let the waiting show us what we want most of all, and from that place we can pursue that longing with an open heart and a hopeful spirit.
2. We wait well by choosing character over immediacy
One of the hardest tests that waiting offers to us is the test of character. If we aren’t getting what we want when we want it, how do we respond? Who are we when life is hard and unbending?
Waiting well requires choosing the less-traveled path of character over immediate gratification; it means pursuing integrity rather than a quick fix.
It means doing excellent work in your current position and refusing to cut corners, even if it feels nobody notices you and your dream job is a million miles away.It means learning how to love and support your friends when they’re having the engagement parties and baby showers and you feel unseen. It means choosing to be thankful for what we do have rather than becoming bitter about what we don’t.
This is where the rubber meets the proverbial road, and if we allow the painful seasons of waiting to shape us into women who are refined under pressure, we will be closer to becoming the truest and most whole versions of ourselves that we can be, no matter what happens in our waiting seasons.
It seems counterintuitive, to accept what we can’t (yet) have, but it’s part of living wholeheartedly rather than locking our hearts away.
3. We wait well by discovering the gift of resiliency in ourselves
When we live in the tension of longing for something but not yet seeing it fulfilled, we can ultimately respond in two ways: in hope or in despair.
It might not feel a choice, but it is, and it’s one that is always before us: Will we give in to the fear that what we most dearly want might never happen, or will we embrace the life that we do have and plant our feet in the garden of hope?
If we choose despair, every day will feel drudgery, walking through waist-high sand. But if we choose hope — if we choose to embrace this life we’ve been given with gratitude and love, and if we choose to believe that what is ahead can be far better than we might imagine — we will find within ourselves a resiliency that can’t be bought or manufactured.
We will find that what we have, right now, is enough — because we know our worth and purpose in our hearts, no matter what it is we’re waiting for.
Are you waiting for something right now? Where does your hope come from?
Images via Yuri Orozco Rivera
God Is Working in Your Waiting
Most parents would agree that their children don’t want to wait for anything. The last thing kids want to hear is Mom say, “Not now.” It can prompt anger, frustration, even hopelessness. This “dis-ease” of waiting follows most of us into our adult years. We may not respond with the same emotional outbursts as children, but most of us still hate waiting for what we want.
And our modern society just makes it worse. We want everything done quickly — and new devices constantly spring up to meet those demands and encourage our impatience. We are not used to waiting, and the more our technology caters to our immediate desires, the less we feel willing to wait.
Such is our dilemma as Christians. While society makes every attempt to make our life easier and faster, God works on a very different timetable. In his mind, nothing is wrong with waiting. In fact, waiting can actually be a positive good that he often uses to make us more his Son.
God Works While We Wait
Something actually happens while nothing is happening. God uses waiting to change us.
“There is actually something happening while nothing is happening. God uses waiting to change us.”
The story of Adam and Eve is a story of rebellion against God. Once they believed that God didn’t have their best interests in mind, they decided to go ahead without God and do what they wanted. They became, in effect, their own god. Too often, this is exactly what we do today. When God tells us to wait, we don’t trust him, but go ahead and find ways to accomplish what we want to happen.
This tendency to push God to the side goes against his plan for us. It creates distance in our relationship with him. It causes us to get into trouble and brings pain. What good is it to gain the whole world now — whatever it is we think we want — and forfeit our souls’ intimacy with God (Mark 8:36)?God wants us to learn how to follow him and put down our demanding selves — to calm that screaming child in us. One way he helps us do this is to say, “Wait.” That miserable, uncomfortable, sometimes painful state of silence is one of God’s most powerful tools to set us free.
If we are willing, that is.
Choosing at the Crossroads
We don’t start out willing to wait. Our natural response to waiting is often anger or doubt. Fortunately, God is gracious and merciful, understanding of our tendencies. Simply feeling deep, complex emotions in waiting — especially for significant things, a pregnancy or a job — is not necessarily sinful in itself. But we can decide where those emotions take us.
We can decide to exalt these feelings. We might act on them by taking matters into our own hands. Or perhaps we will not act, but we’ll make an idol the good for which we are waiting — every passing day is another log on the fires of bitterness, impatience, ingratitude, perhaps even resentment against the God who won’t give us what we want.
Or, by God’s grace, we can choose to wait as he intends. “Waiting on the Lord is the opposite of running ahead of the Lord, and it’s the opposite of bailing out on the Lord,” writes John Piper. “It’s staying at your appointed place while he says stay, or it’s going at his appointed pace while he says go. It’s not impetuous, and it’s not despairing.”
We have the choice, then, to take a deep breath, release our clenched hands, and let God be God. And we are invited to continue hoping in his greatness.
Pray for God to Work in You
Certainly, only one of these options will bring us joy. As we seek to accept and rejoice in God’s handling of our lives, including his timing, we can ask God to work in us two main things, so that our waiting is not in vain: humility and trust.
Sometimes, when I’ve found myself getting impatient and upset, I will remind myself that God is the one who put me here. My life is not my own. This is humility. It is coming to realize that we are a breath and God owes us nothing (Psalm 39:5; Luke 17:7–10).
Then comes trust, which means believing at least two things about God: he is powerful, and he is loving.
“That miserable, uncomfortable, painful silence is one of God’s most powerful tools to set us free.”
Believing God is powerful means that we know he is in charge of what’s happening; things are not arbitrary or his control. He is capable of both helping us and changing things. Much of our anxiety in waiting is because we forget that “God is able to make all grace abound to you” (2 Corinthians 9:8). You are not at the mercy of your circumstances.Believing God is loving means that there is care and purpose behind all that he does. It means that he is faithful to help us right now and bring us blessings later. It means that his judgment and timing is always perfectly good. True, he owes us nothing, yet he has promised to give us everything we need (Philippians 4:19).
Even during that long road of silence, God cares deeply for us. We can be David and remind ourselves, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).
Blessing of Waiting in Faith
Some of the greatest figures in the Bible — Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David — had to wait for many years for God’s promises. Everything that happened in the meantime was used to prepare them, inwardly as well as outwardly. Then, when they reached their promise, they were blessed beyond measure.
God invites us to trust in his goodness today and his faithfulness tomorrow. Relinquishing control to him is the main route to experience his love and peace. It unites our hearts with his. It creates a level of maturity and character that we will take with us into the future, and it enables us to enjoy his future blessings all the more.