How to communicate in the English-speaking office: 14 useful idioms

Original author: Brett Johnson
  • Transfer

On Habré in recent years, quite a lot of articles on relocation, including in the US and the UK, are published. Usually in such materials talk about job search and visa issues, but not much attention is paid to further integration, including in the work team.

The Textly service team has published on its blog a selection of English idioms that are often used in office communications. I decided to prepare a translation of this useful material.

What is an idiom

In simple terms, an idiom is a compound expression, the meaning of which does not correspond to the original meaning of the words used in it. For example, the phrase raining cats and dogs means a strong thunderstorm with thunder (dogs) and heavy rain (cats) - there is no connection with the original meaning of the words cat (cat) and dog (dog).

Idioms do not belong to slang, since they must be understood by all native speakers, and not only by those who belong to a particular group (for example, IT specialists). Therefore, many idioms are found in any area of ​​life - including in office communications. And here are just some of them.

Office classics

1) Get / Set the ball rolling

The phrase has penetrated into everyday communication from the world of sports, and is very fond of business representatives. Now this phrase means the beginning of a business or project.

Example of use : “I need to make it clear. Sally, if you can set the ball on the subject. ”

Translation :“ So, I think now everything is clear to everyone. Sally, take it upon yourself and send a letter to collect opinions on the subject. ”

2) Take the bull by the horns

Again, there is no connection with the corrida, as it might seem. This is the English analogue of the familiar expression “take the bull by the horns,” that is, to gain control over the situation through any decisive action.

Example of use : "No one was taking responsibility for

the poor performance of the new product until John took the bull by the horns, took charge, and was able to lead the team to success." Translation : "Nobody wanted to take responsibility for the poor results of the new product, until John took the bull by the horns. He became the leader on the project and led the team to success. "

3) Ahead of the curve

So they say, for example, about a company that sets the tone for its industry, it is more innovative and successful than its competitors. Similarly, among the employees of companies there are leaders who can be described like this. And if they say that about you, that is very good.

Example of use : "You've all done a great

job this year, but with increasing competition, we really need to stay ahead of the curve if we want the business to remain successful." Translation : "You all did a great job this year, but because of the growing competition, we all need to become even more productive if we want to stay on top. ”

4) On the back burner

In business, an analogy with a juggler is often used, which needs to be simultaneously controlled with a multitude of balls. Multitasking is an important quality in a modern office, but the ability to correctly prioritize is even more important. And if some task turns out to be a priority, then other matters recede into the background - it is this moment that describes the idiom on the back burner.

This expression originated in the kitchen - when the housewives could move dishes that are less important right now to the back of the stove, where the heat is less. Because of this, what is most important is prepared faster.

Example of use : "Thanks for all your work on

the training programme but we have to put it on the back burner for now while we concentrate on our new product launch." Translation : "I am grateful to you for your work on the training program, but now we you have to push this task into the background and concentrate on launching a new product. ”

5) Back to the drawing board

Sometimes ideas don't work, and you have to think about them again, that is, “return them to the drawing board.”

Example of use : “Unfortunately, I’m not happy, but I’m not happy.”

Translation : “Unfortunately, our new marketing campaign was not as successful as we hoped for, so we need to think about how to make it better. Waiting for your ideas and suggestions by Monday. "

6) Think outside the box

Perhaps one of the most famous idioms, which means the ability to think outside the box.

Example of use : “I reallyneed to besomething memorable.”

Translation : “Our new product should be special, so I would like to so that you can maximize your creativity and come up with something truly memorable. ”

Some more idioms to help create a good impression.

7) On the same page

There is no connection with the books here; instead, a general understanding of the situation is meant. For example, a team of any project needs to be “on the same page” in order to act together.

Example of use : “we go forward.”

Translation : “I hope that after I have explained everything, it will be easier for us to move on.”

8) Up to speed

In business, no one wants to be left behind. This idiom is often used in the discussion of various projects.

Example of use : ". I want the report to

bring me up to speed with all the most recent developments with the project" Translation : "I want a report, which will allow me to dive into the details of the project."

9) Touch base

In American English, a huge number of idioms that were born on a baseball field. And here is one of them. At work, it is important to maintain relationships with colleagues and share information. A proposal to organize a "base of contact" can be a substitute for an invitation to chat.

Usage example : “Let's touch me on with developments.”

Translation : “Let's talk on Wednesday, and you can get me up to date.”

10) Hit the nail on the head

To hammer a nail with a blow exactly on the head means to think of something, to hit the target. The phrase is quite obvious, but at the same time bright, therefore it can sometimes be used in office dialogs.

Example of use : "When you said that we needed

to invest more in staff training, you hit the nail on the head." Translation : "When you say that we need to invest more in the training of staff, it was the perfect solution."

11) Too many irons in jail / juggling too many balls

For modern people, many idioms sound strange, because they were invented in those times when electricity was not used everywhere. If you have too many “hot irons”, this means that you are involved in too many cases and cannot do all of them well (another analog is to juggle many balls).

Example of use : “It was too much irons in the fire. If you had noproblem, you’llhave lost all of them! ”

Translation :“ It’s easy to understand what the problem was: you were too dispersed. If you concentrated on one or two important clients, you would not lose them! ”

12) Not up my cup

Another pair of idioms that can replace each other. The first is more often used in the USA, the second is more like the British. Both of them are used to politely explain to the interlocutor that you do not want to do something, or something does not suit you.

Example usage : “I appreciate all your work but I’m not sure it’s my alley. But I think with a few changes,

it could be just what we are looking for ". Translation :" I appreciate all the work that you've done, but it's just not quite what we need. Although if you tweak a few moments a bit, everything can be.

13) Cut to the chase

In Anglo-Saxon culture, politeness is very important, but sometimes you need to be able to clearly say what you need. This idiom will help to get to work - and it is actively used, including by the heads.

Example of use : “I’ve understood What do you really want? ”

Translation :“ I understood everything you said, but maybe closer to the point? What do you really want? ”

14) Face the music

One of the idioms describing situations in which it is better not to be. Despite the fact that at first glance the phrase sounds nice, it describes not so comfortable things. To face the music means to take the blame for some kind of failure, to which you could have, and could not have any relation at all.

Example of use : “I didn’t close.”

Translation : “I have a meeting with my boss on Friday. I think I will definitely fall for the deal that fell through. "

And what useful idioms do you know? Write in the comments - we will collect a complete and useful list.

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