Exercise 1

A. Look at the matrix and listen to a consultant talking about setting priorities.

 What two things do you need to do to set priorities?

 Why are important and urgent tasks not the same thing?

 Label the four quadrants in the matrix as important and urgent, important but not urgent, urgent but not important and not important or urgent.

























Answer & Audioscript

1   Make a list of the tasks. Compare the tasks and decide which are important and which are urgent.

2   Important tasks have to be done because they matter to your business; urgent tasks have to be done now, even if they are not important.


Part 1

Nowadays we all have too many tasks. Everything seems urgent, and nobody has time to wait. But part of the secret of success is not to get distracted, not to react to everything that comes to your desk, but instead to prioritise. Setting priorities is very easy to do. First, you make a list of the tasks that you need to do. Second, you compare these tasks and decide which ones are important and which ones are urgent. These are not the same thing. Important tasks have to be done because they matter to your business; urgent tasks have to be done now, even if they are not important.

In his book The 7 Habits of Highly E­ffective People, Stephen Covey describes a time-management matrix which helps us to visualise the relationship between important and urgent. Imagine a square divided into four quadrants. In the top left quadrant we put the tasks which are important and urgent.

The top left quadrant is for high-priority tasks. In the top right quadrant we put important tasks which are not urgent. In the bottom left quadrant we put tasks which are urgent but not important. And in the bottom right quadrant we put the tasks which are neither important nor urgent. Bottom right are very low priority, and will probably never get done.

B. Listen to Part 2. The consultant goes through a list of tasks. Write the numbers of the tasks in the correct quadrant of the matrix.

Answer & Audioscript

 important and urgent: 3, 6

 important but not urgent: 2

 urgent but not important: 4

 not important or urgent: 1, 5, 7


Part 2

So let’s go through your list of tasks. I see you have numbered them. Good! Task one is not that urgent, and not that important. Don’t waste your time on it. Task two is quite important, but not really that urgent. Put it in your schedule. Task three is really urgent. It is also of utmost importance. Make it your number one priority. Task four is not important, but extremely urgent. Do it today if you have time. Task five is really low priority. It’s a bit of a distraction, to be honest. Put it at the bottom of your list of things to do. Do it when you have time. Task six is extremely urgent and important. Give it a high priority, please. Task seven has no priority whatsoever. It’s information only. You can put it off for a while.

C. Listen to Part 3. The consultant ends with a useful tip. What is the ‘real tip’?

Answer & Audioscript

Be disciplined and don’t put things off.


Part 3

One last tip. I have already said that part of the secret of success is not to get distracted. But that’s only part of the secret. The other part of the secret, the real tip, is discipline. Don’t put things off. No excuses. Once you have identi­fied your tasks, just get on with them.

Exercise 2

A. Listen to two DaneAv employees talking about communication problems. From the list below, choose the type of communication problem (a-d) each speaker is having.

Speaker 1 …………….

Speaker 2 …………….

a   an accent that is very difficult to understand

b   different cultural approaches to communication

c   important information not shared

d   paperwork overload

B. Listen again and answer the questions.

1    a   Which two nationalities were involved in the situation?

      b   What did the speaker expect of the dinner meeting?

      c   What did the speaker learn?

2    a   How often is the speaker supposed to provide a sales activity report?

      b   How often would she like to write the report?

      c   How does she describe the performance of the sales team?

Answer & Audioscript


1 b   2 d



a   South African, Vietnamese

b   He expected to discuss business.

c   That in Vietnam, people like to get to know each other before discussing business. Also, they rarely discuss work at dinner.


a   weekly

b   monthly

c   outstanding


Speaker 1

I’m based in Durban, in South Africa, but I sometimes visit our production facility in Vietnam, near Hanoi. On my ­first visit there, I was introduced to the top management of our subsidiary soon after I arrived. My visit wasn’t very long, and we had some important business to discuss. I expected to meet people, have a short conversation, then get down to business. On the ­first day, we went to the factory in the afternoon, and I had a tour. That was interesting, but not very useful to me. Then we went out for dinner. I expected this to be a business dinner, but my hosts never mentioned work, and whenever I tried to go onto that topic, they changed the subject quickly. We ­finally discussed business on the second day. The whole experience really confused me. It was only later that I learnt about how important it is in Vietnamese business culture to get to know people ­first, before talking business. Also, apparently it’s OK to talk business at lunch, but almost never at dinner. Now that I understand, it makes a lot of sense. I like it, actually. I guess they think we South Africans are probably too direct!

Speaker 2

I completely understand that the management needs to know what the sales team is up to – what we’re doing. The business depends on our performance. But a few months ago, they asked us to write a weekly report of our sales activities. Before that, it was a monthly report, which I liked. But a weekly report – it’s too much, a real pain. I really need to focus on selling. And do the managers really want to read a weekly report from sales reps all over the world? Don’t they have more important things to do? I would understand if the sales team were failing, but we aren’t failing. The last couple of years have been outstanding for the business. This is a case of too much communication – too much paperwork.

Exercise 3

A. Listen. Decide if these sentences are true (T) or false (F).

1   Frederik feels that the situation is more stressful than it should be.

2   He blames Mr Lau for the incorrect placement of the power switch.

3   He doesn’t understand why Mr Lau needed to ask him what to do.

B. Listen. Choose the correct option in italics.

1   Mr Lau knew / didn’t realise the placement of the power switch was important.

2   Mr Lau asked for Frederik’s advice because he didn’t know what to do / to show respect.

3   Mr Lau’s actions were based on his own cultural understanding of / company rules about how people should work together.

Answer & Audioscript


1 T   2 F   3 T


1 knew   2 to show respect

3 his own cultural understanding



I’ve scheduled a meeting with one of our biggest clients in France next Monday. China is going to supply the model for the meeting just in time, but it’s stressful. If something goes wrong with the shipping, I’ll have big problems. We don’t have to work this way! Why didn’t Mr Lau send the design model back to manufacturing as soon as he realised there was a problem? Why did he have to ask what I wanted? Why couldn’t he just do something instead of waiting for orders from me? It doesn’t make sense to me – not at all.


When I received the design model of the HM-02, I knew the problem was serious. However, Frederik works in Head Office in Denmark, and he’s above me in the company. It’s really important for employees to respect their superiors and to include them in making important decisions, so I could never have returned the design model for the correction without ­first asking Frederik. Teamwork is extremely important in business. It’s why we are successful as a company. Also, I knew we could supply the model just in time, so there wasn’t going to be a big problem.

Exercise 4

A. Listen to the podcast and put the topics in the order they are mentioned.

 communication skills needed by a good manager   ……

b   choosing the right language to use   ……

 coming to a conclusion through discussion   ……

d   deciding whether to email or phone   ……

 being quiet if you don’t know the answer   ……

B. Listen again and choose the correct option.

1    Andreas Hammer believes certain people

      a   speak without thinking.

      b   don’t like meetings.

      c   never know the answer.

2    He thinks that in meetings people

      a   talk too much.

      b   need to share ideas more.

      c   discuss ideas too much.

3    According to Andreas the workplace

      a   is like college.

      b   is usually casual.

      c   is more formal than university.

4    What does Andreas say people need to learn to do?

      a   write emails

      b   make phone calls

      c   choose the right way to communicate

5    Managers

      a   usually communicate well.

      b   need to be better communicators than others.

      c   are not always good communicators.

6    Managers have to communicate to their team

      a   in writing.

      b   as a group.

      c   on a personal basis.

C. Complete the notes in the table.

Skills to develop How to communicate Good managers
Learn how to say (1)………….. at first and think about the question. Decide the best (3)………….. of communicating: face to face, email, etc. They have to communicate to the staff (5)………….. made by the directors.
Learn how to share ideas to (2)………….. a decision together. In writing your view is fixed but by phone you can (4)………….. it during the conversation. They need to communicate with each (6)………….. personally.
Answer & Audioscript


1 e   2 c   3 b   4 d   5 a


1 a   2 b   3 c   4 c   5 b   6 c


1 nothing   2 make   3 way   4 change   5 decisions

6 employee


I = Interviewer   A = Andreas

I:   Welcome to our podcast, Three Questions With. Today’s guest is Andreas Hammer, a communications expert. Welcome, Andreas.

A:   Hello.

I:   My first question is for people looking for their first job after school or university. What communication skills do young people need to develop when they start working?

A:   That’s a very good question. Speaking is a key communication skill but in fact the first thing we all need to do is to remember that it is OK to say nothing at first. Take time to think when someone asks you a question. And if you’re not sure you’ve understood, check. For example, if I’m not clear what information you’re asking for with one of your questions, I’ll ask you to repeat it. Sometimes in meetings nobody knows the answer. The worst thing to do is to act like an eager student and answer immediately. I see a lot of clever people who always had the answer at school or college who still want to be the first to answer at work. If I were them, I would say nothing. Quiet people, on the other hand, need to be encouraged to off er ideas because in meetings we usually arrive at answers and make decisions by sharing lots of different opinions. We can only decide after a lot of discussion.

I:   So how should young professionals communicate at work?

A:   Compared with school or university, the workplace is more formal. I know some companies have a relaxed dress code but you still have to use the right language with the right person. If you aren’t sure, choose formal. You must also find the right way to communicate. Sometimes you can have a casual conversation by the water-cooler but at other times you need a more formal meeting. Using the phone or sending an email are also very different ways of communication and it is important to make the right choice. If you’re not sure, use the phone. On the phone, you can change your view as you talk. If you send an email, it will be too late to change. Your opinion is fixed.

I:   That’s a good point. Finally, what about managers? What communication skills does a good manager need?

A:   We often describe people as good communicators. Managers have to be the best communicators. They are often in the middle between the directors making decisions and the staff having to do what has been decided. A good manager must communicate the sense of the decision in a way the employee understands it personally. Explaining and illustrating for each individual – that’s good communication.

I:   Andreas Hammer. Thanks very much.


1. You will hear eight short recordings twice. For questions 1–8 choose the correct answer.

1   What is the woman doing?

      a   writing a text message

      b   making a phone call

      c   making a video call

2   What does the man think his company should do?

      a   stop personal emails at work

      b   make staff leave work phones in the office at night

      c   make staff exercise more

3   Where did the man meet his boss?

4   Where does the women work now?

      a   in an open-plan office

      b   in a private office

      c   in her own home

5   Which product has a fault?

 What has gone wrong with Helen’s negotiation?

      a   The customer wouldn’t agree to a compromise.

      b   Helen gave a bigger discount than she was allowed.

      c   Helen didn’t have the right information.

 Which report does the man need today?

      a   customer service

      b   export sales

      c   regional planning

 What must the woman do first?

      a   write the report

      b   speak to the designers

      c   check the contract

Answer & Audioscript

1 a   2 c   3 b   4 b   5 a   6 c   7 a   8 b


 What is the woman doing?

A:   Excuse me, are you busy? Oh, sorry, I see you’re on the phone. I’ll let you finish your call.

B:   No, it’s okay it’s just a text. I was talking to my boss in New York just now and he asked me to text some information to him.

A:   Wouldn’t it be easier to email the information?

B:   Perhaps, but I’ve nearly finished now. What can I do for you?

2   What does man the think his company should do?

A:   I think the company must make changes.

B:   What, like banning personal emails and social media during office hours?

A:   Maybe, but I also think we’d all be happier if we did more exercise. Nobody uses the company gym. If we all had to spend one hour a day exercising, people would be far less stressed.

B:   I hate the gym. I’d rather leave my work phone in the office at the end of the day so I don’t have to answer work emails at home.

3   Where did the man meet his boss?

A:   Hey, the boss just told me I’ve got the promotion.

B:   That’s great. When did he tell you?

A:   This morning. I was at the bus stop last night when I met Frank. He said my boss wanted to see me. Frank bumped into him at the water cooler. I don’t know why my boss didn’t just phone me. Anyway, I saw him in the café this morning and he gave me the good news.

4   Where does the woman work now?

A:   Our company’s moving next month and we’re having open plan offices.

B:   Really? I used to work in one and I found it very distracting. In the end, my company went back to private offices.

A:   That’s what I was thinking. Personally, I’d prefer to work from home but I don’t think they’ll allow that.

B:   What about asking if you can do two days at home and three in the new open plan office?

A:   That’s a good idea.

5   Which product has a fault?

A:   We’ve got a lot of problems with one of our products. There seems to be a fault with the material we’re using.

B:   Don’t tell me it’s the office chair again. I thought we’d sorted that out.

A:   We have. But we’ve had some complaints about the kayak sinking.

B:   It’s probably because the customer doesn’t know how to use it. Last time it was the bike. Someone tried saying it was unsafe because they kept falling off.

6   What has gone wrong with Helen’s negotiation?

A:   Helen, how did the negotiation go?

B:   Not well. They wouldn’t agree to the price.

A:   Did you offer an 8 percent discount?

B:   No, I didn’t think I could. Our standard discount is 5 percent and they wanted 10 percent.

A:   We can give 8 percent if it’s a big contract. I think they’d be happy with that.

B:   Oh dear. I’m no good at negotiating. I haven’t had enough practice.

A:   Don’t worry. I’ll speak to them and offer the 8 percent.

7   Which report does the man need today?

A:   Becky, thanks for the regional planning report you gave me yesterday.

B:   That’s OK. I’m working on the export one now, and Mani’s sending over the customer service one later today.

A:   That’s the one I really need today. I’m meeting the Staff Director tomorrow and I need facts and figures on our customer service performance. Please make sure you print it out by the end of the day so I can take it home.

B:   Right. I’ll finish the sales one for Friday’s meeting.

A:   Thanks.

 What must the woman do first?

A:   Hi Anna. Have you written that report yet?

B:   No, it’s on my list, along with all the other tasks that have to be done today, like checking the new contract and speaking to the designers.

A:   You need to make that last one top priority. We can’t go forward without the design being agreed.

B:   OK. I’ll put it at the top of my list.

A:   Great. But I’d still like you to finish the report today as well.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This