English in business

English is more and more necessary for international business, but less and less sufficient. Companies should invest more in foreign-language skills. Many people are facing the problem of how to keep a balance between their business and private life.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид учебное пособие
Язык английский
Дата добавления 25.01.2010
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Unit 1



"English is more and more necessary for international business, but less and less sufficient"(Leonard Orban, EU Commissioner for Multilingualism)

1 Pre-reading task. Discuss the following questions in groups:

-People have always needed a common language to communicate. What language have they used for this purpose in Europe?

-What language have European community had as an international one in different periods of history?

-What language do you learn as a second language? How can you apply the knowledge of English in your future life? What are your ambitions?

2 Read the following statement. Do you agree or disagree? Prepare arguments to support your view. “English is more and more necessary for international business, but less and less sufficient”


3 Read, learn and keep in memory the following expressions, try to use them in your own sentences:

-public funding

-tangible return on investment

-to benefit from learning a foreign language

-competition for public funding

-market failure

-insufficient language skills

-the revealing results

-inadequate intercultural skills

-small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

-the total value of smth

-a quantifiable benefit

-to undertake a number of studies

-export markets

4 Read the first part of the text


a) Why should you learn a foreign language? That might seem like a stupid question, particularly coming from a company that publishes language-learning magazines. Surely, the more foreign languages you can speak, the better. Yes, probably. But sometimes simple questions are not as stupid as they seem.

Of course, it's easy to think of reasons for learning languages. You can travel more easily, communicate with more people, and learn about other countries and cultures. Languages can also help you in your current job, or be an advantage if you want a new job.

b) But look again at that last paragraph. It's all about "you, you, you". You benefit privately from learning a foreign language. You benefit in your career, language skills benefit society more generally -- for example, by improving international understanding. And companies benefit from the language skills of their employees.

c) Anne Davidson Lund, a director of CILT, the National Centre for Languages in the UK. says: “figures speak more loudly than words in a climate where language learning is not an unquestioned right, where competition for public funding for education and training is intense, and where the prize goes to those who can show a tangible return on investment in terms of their nation's bank balance. Can we win that prize for languages?"

d) Lund argued that, if the business sector wants to secure more public funding for foreign-language education and training, it must show that language skills bring a quantifiable benefit to companies. Also, the business sector must show that there is "market failure": that is, firms are not currently getting all the language skills they need.

CILT has undertaken a number of studies to look into these questions. The most important one was the 2007 "ELAN" study {Effects on the European Union Economy of Shortages of Foreign Language Skills in Enterprise-- see box, page 19) for the European Commission. This looked at firms in 29 European countries and tried to quantify the value of contracts lost because of insufficient language skills.

e) The results were revealing. The report found that there was a clear link between language skills and export success. And among a sample of 2,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), 11 per cent said that they had lost contracts as a result of a lack of language skills. (In most countries, ten per cent said they had also lost contracts because of inadequate intercultural skills.) Some of these contracts were worth over €1 million, with the average being €345,000. The report estimated that the total value of lost business to the EU economy because of poor language skills in SMEs was around €100 billion a year.

f) The ELAN report identified four key elements of language management in companies that were successful in export markets:"... having a language strategy, appointing native speakers, recruiting staff with language skills and using translators and interpreters". An SME investing in all of these four elements was found to have an export-sales proportion 44.5 per cent higher than one that does not do so.

5 Read through the first part of the article quickly once more. Match each sentence 1-7 to the sentence a-g that should logically follow it.

1 Foreign languages can

2 You benefit privately

3 You can travel more easily, communicate with more people and

4 Language skills benefit society more generally by

5 The prize goes to those who can show a

6 If you want to secure more public funding for foreign-language training and educations…

7 Four key elements of language management for success in export markets are:

a) it must show that language skills bring a quantifiable benefit to companies

b) improving international understanding

c) a language strategy, appointing native speakers, recruiting staff with language skills and using translators and interpreters

d) also help you in your current job

e ) learn about other countries and cultures

f) tangible return on investment in terms of their nation's bank balance

g) from learning a foreign language

6 Think about the questions to paragraphs A-F which require the answers, presenting the main idea of each paragraph.


1. Read, learn and remember the following expressions, try to use them in your own sentences:

-to make recommendations for improving language skills

-regional and minority languages

-linguistic diversity

-to gain a competitive advantage

-less sufficient

-mother tongue

-to deal with different languages

-the importance of implementing strategies for developing the language skills

-disseminating best practices on language strategies

-targeting the official language

-to master the language of the consumers

-to have access to the behaviour and attitudes of others

-to target English as a priority

-to meet companies' language needs

-challenges facing multinational companies

-to integrate employees into their workforces

2 Read the text


Following the ELAN report, Leonard Orban, the EU Commissioner for Multilingualism, set up the "Business Forum for Multilingualism" to make recommendations for improving language skills in EU companies Orban speaks about the role of foreign languages in business.

1) Why is multilingualism so important for the EU?

The EU already has 23 official languages, more than 60 regional and minority languages and hundreds of other languages spoken by people originally from outside the EU. We now want to make full use of this linguistic diversity. We want to show that, rather than being a burden, it is an asset for the EU -- for cultural, educational and professional reasons. Also, EU companies can gain a competitive advantage through foreign language skills. But one of the main ideas from the Business Forum for Multilingualism is that English is not enough. English is more and more necessary for international business, but less and less sufficient.

2) So, how good are the language skills of EU citizens?

We are still a long way from our goal of every citizen learning at least two foreign languages. Only 28 per cent of European citizens are able to speak at least two foreign languages. And nearly half of European citizens can speak only their mother tongue.

3) What role should companies play here?

Companies should invest more in developing the abilities of their workers to deal with different languages. I think especially at the level of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) there is not enough awareness of the importance of languages other than English and of the importance of implementing strategies for developing their employees' language skills. So we have made a number of recommendations in the report on ways to help firms. Of course, increased financial support should be considered -- at the EU level, but also at national, regional and local levels. But we also propose a new European internet platform for collecting and disseminating best practices on language strategies.

4) But are language skills only the companies' responsibility?

No, it's a shared responsibility. The European institutions also have a contribution to make, but so do the member states through improvements in their education systems. And so do individuals themselves.

5) Latin is still one of the most common foreign languages taught in educational institutions. Shouldn't this time and effort be spent more usefully on modern foreign languages?

Our task in the European Commission is to defend and promote the linguistic diversity in Europe. That means targeting mainly the official languages of the EU. So, we look less at languages like Latin or ancient Greek. But these languages, even though they are no longer tools of communication, can be useful in terms of personal development. So we are not against these languages. But we would encourage people to learn a large variety of European languages. There are so many languages -- for example, those of neighbouring countries in the EU, or of non-EU countries -- and people should choose whatever languages they want.

6) When you say people should learn two foreign languages, do you mean two EU languages?

No, Europeans should also learn the languages of non-EU countries. For example, there are more and more Chinese people who are learning European languages. But Europeans should also learn Mandarin, Russian, Urdu, Japanese and so on. This will help not only individuals but also our companies, and so help the Union to become more competitive.

7) But, surely, learning better English is still the priority for many EU employees.

Of course, we acknowledge that English is more or less a lingua franca for communication between companies. And we are talking about the need for good English, because very often people speak bad English. But when you are addressing consumers, it is a completely different story. English is not enough. You need to master the language of your consumers. For example, it has been shown that many people in Germany don't understand advertising slogans that are in English. And we are not only talking about language skills; we're talking about intercultural skills. Teaching a language doesn't mean just teaching grammar, pronunciation etc. It means teaching a culture, literature and so on. It means having access to the behaviour and attitudes of others. We need to understand that others may think in a different way. These are the sorts of skills that are needed to do business in other places. So, while English will continue to be important, companies should add other languages, and other abilities, in order to become more competitive.

8) Which, then, are the most important foreign languages for EU workers to learn apart from English?

That's not for us to say. It's up to every company to decide which language skills they need, according to their activities and plans. For example, some companies may target Mandarin as a priority. Others may target Hindi. We don't want to tell the companies what to do. We just want to tell them that languages are an important part of their performance, and that they should consider this seriously.

9) Don't firms solve their language needs pragmatically by, for example, hiring people from other countries who speak two other languages as well as their native tongue?

Yes, in many cases, companies do meet their language needs by finding the right people to employ. On the other hand, as politicians, we have to think about all European citizens and give them the chance to become more competitive and to find better jobs. It is also to the advantage of EU companies if they can find people in their own countries with the necessary language skills. And, as we say in our report, one of the main challenges facing multinational companies in the EU -- and society more generally -- is to integrate employees from different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds into their workforces. And this means that the training of existing employees could be the best option.

3 Match each sentence 1-10 to the sentence a-j that should logically follow it.

1 EU companies can gain…

2 Only 28% of European citizens are able

3 Companies should invest more in

4 We propose a new European internet platform for

5 Our task in the European Community is

6 We acknowledge that English is more or less a

7 Teaching a language doesn't mean

8 While English will continue to be important,

9 It's up to every company to decide which language

10 One of the main challenges facing multinational companies in EU is

a) collecting and disseminating best practices on language strategies

b) lingua franca for communication between companies

c) a competitive advantage through foreign language skills

d) integrate employees from different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds

e) companies should add other languages and other abilities in order to become more competitive

f) to speak at least two foreign languages

g) to promote the linguistic diversity

h) skills they need, according to their activities and plans

i) just teaching grammar and pronunciation, but also a culture, literature and so on

j) developing the abilities of their workers to deal with different languages

4 Read through the article, part two once more. Try to summarize in a sentence what each paragraph 1-9 is about

5 Read the questions which are the headings of the paragraphs 1-9. Answer the questions. Don't look into the text.

! Home assignment: get ready to speak about the problems of multilingualism in European community. For more information use the following sites:

For more information: Companies work better with languages -- the Business Forum for Multilingualism, European Commission: http://ec.europa.eu/ education/languages/news/newsl669_ en. htm

Effects on the European Union Economy of Shortages of Foreign Language Skills in Enterprise (ELAN), European Commission (2007): http://www.cilt.org.uk/research/projects/ empioyment/elan. htm

Europeans and Languages, Eurobarometer Report (2006), European Commission: for Europe, Conference Report (2008), British Council: http://www. britishcouncil. de/pdf/report08. pdf


British Council: www.britishcouncil.org

CILT, the National Centre for Languages: www.cilt.org.uk European Commission (Multilingualism): http://ec.europa.eu/ education/languages/index__ en. Htm

Unit 2


1 Many business people are facing the problem of how to keep a balance between their business career and private life. What priorities would you set up if dealing with the same problem?

2 Read and discuss three parts of the article by Vicki Sussens-Messerer"Fitting it all" in which she presenfthree different points on work-life balance ( Spotlight 6/2008).


PENNY FERGUSON, mother of six and owner of leadership-development company Penny Ferguson Limited, in Newbury, England.

Penny Ferguson is sitting in the log-cabin office in the garden of her country home in Newbury, in southern England. The 65-year-old British leadership specialist has just spent 20 minutes relaxing in an armchair. She arrived back from Canada the night before and was up early for a breakfast meeting with clients. She is tired and in a reflective mood. "I have consciously started to take more quality time for me," she says. " That is a big change because I chose to work pretty hard for the last ten years."

In fact, Ferguson has worked hard her whole life. She has six children, five grandchildren and four terriers, and started her company at the age of fifty. At one point, she had six small children, two step-children and nine dogs. "I used to go shopping with eight children," she says. "I had the three eldest pushing the youngest in the prams and I held the hands of the middle two".

Ferguson had her first child at 21 and her last at 29. In the middle, she married for the second time. "I laugh about this now, but when it came to the sixth child, I really didn't know how to fit him into the schedule." She had an eight-bedroom house, which she says she ran like clockwork. She had a mother's help, but not all the time. "I would get up at 5.30 a.m., have a bath and change before I did the baby's first feed of the day. I would make the children's beds as their feet touched the floor. I would take them downstairs and give them breakfast. Then I would drop the boys at their school and Lucy at nursery school. In total, I drove 92 miles (146 km) a day on school rounds. Between rounds, I did the washing, ironing, cooking and shopping. The last thing I did, before I fell into bed at night, was to put the washing in the machine."

But Ferguson doesn't think this is good time-management. "I fooled myself into believing that being efficient made me happy. But what was more important - keeping the house perfect or having quality time with children?" Between her second and third marriages, Ferguson was a single mother for six years, at one stage holding three jobs.

3 Sort out the statements below into TRUE or FALSE:

Penny Ferguson was married two times.

Penny has a dog.

Penny keeps her house perfect.

Penny's children attended schools which were quite a distance from her house/

Nobody helped Penny with her kids.

Penny had to do a lot of washing.

Penny is sure that being effective makes a person happy.

To make money enough, Penny had several jobs.

Penny Ferguson has never had much time for herself.

10 Penny had had six kids by the time she was 30.

CARY COOPER, author and professor of organizational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School

Сагу Cooper, professor at Lancaster University Management School, is chaotic. The coauthor of Detox Your Desk, Declutter Your Life and Mind (Capstone Press, ISBN 978-1-84112-787-3) knows he has an interview at 7 p.m., but forgot that it was with us. When I phone at the agreed time, he is not there. But the guru on work-life balance is, surprisingly, always available. His answering machine greets me cheerfully and supplies several ways to find him. When he answers his mobile, he is in his car, stuck in a traffic jam. He promises to be home in 15 minutes, which he is.

"I guess I seem a jumble," says Cooper, an American who lives with his British wife in Poynton, near Manchester. "But I am actually quite organized. I know what the big things are that I have to achieve. It's the things in between that I juggle." But he likes it that way:"I would have huge problems if everything was planned for me."

That's why he gives out his telephone numbers. "I like to be disturbed! I find the interruptions stimulating. I like it when a journalist calls me. They often ask, "Cooper, what do you think about X?", and I think "Oh, that's fascinating!" Then I jump back into my writing again. I can't write at home; it's too quiet. But I guess I'm unusual this way."

Yet Cooper gets his work done. Today, for example, aside from his normal university duties, he finishes editing three chapters of a book he is writing on managing stress, he did two live BBC interviews, and gave an interview for both The Times and The Daily Express. What's his secret? "I always start the day by prioritizing, and plan the big items well. But I am lucky because I can process input fast, I write quickly, and I am able to talk off the cuff.

"I don't want work to dominate my life," says Cooper, adding that his first marriage suffered because he spent too much time at work. "I wasn't there for my two oldest children. So, after I remarried, I decided to work bloody hard so I could get home early." Now, when he stops working, he really stops, he says.

4 Answer the questions about Cary Cooper's story:

What nationality is Cary Cooper?

Is he easy to access?

Why did Cooper's first marriage suffer?

Can Cary Cooper improvise easily when communicating with people?

Does Cary like to share his views with other people?

Do you agree that Cary Cooper is the guru on work-life balance?

Can Cooper type fast?

Is the family important for Cooper?

What can stimulate Cary Cooper?

10Can we say that Cooper is a well-known person?

TIMOTHY FERRIS, author of The 4-Hour Workweek and owner of a dietary-supplement business.

Timothy Ferris claims you can run a global company and do all your work in four hours a week - if you want to. One way is to outsource most of your life. Ferris uses service providers for more than just to help run his dietary-supplement business, Brain-QUICKEN. According to his bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek (Random House, ISBN 978-0-307-35313-9), he has also outsourced private jobs to an Asian company called "Your Man in India". Asha, his contact there, has paid his bills and bought toys for his son. He once even wrote an e-mail to Ferris's wife when she was angry with Timothy, who also outsourced our interview request to his book publicist. The author is tango dancing in Buenos Aires - so instead of an interview, the publicist refers us to his book.

"Most of us work like hell to save for a future dream," writes the crusader of living-for-now. He says an investment banker friend once said that, if he worked an 80-hour week for nine years, he could become an MD(managing director) and make up to $10 million a year. "Dude, what would you do with that money?" Ferris asked him. "take a trip to Thailand," the

banker answered. "Guess what?" writes Ferris in his book. "You can do that for less than $3,000!"

Ferris himself takes many "mini-retirements" a year, when he combines a burning interest with a destination. So, for example, when he lived in Rio de Janeiro, he learned Portuguese and Brazilian jujitsu, and while he was in Hong Kong he even acted in a very popular television series.

Ferris says the concept of working nine to five is totally arbitrary. "It means we have to plan things to keep us busy all day." To manage his time, he applies the 80/20 "Pareto principle", which says that 80 per cent of results flow from only 20 per cent of inputs. "I found out that only five of 120 wholesales customers were ordering regularly and bringing in 95 per cent of revenues. Yet I was spending 98 per cent of my time chasing the remainder. All of my problems came from this unproductive majority." Ferris also takes note of Parkinson's Law, which says that the more time you have to finish a task, the longer it takes.

It may be too early to say the young Ferris has found work-life heaven: his life has been filled with crazy, failed initiatives. But his time-saving ideas are worth noting. One of the top tips in this day of information overkill is never to read a newspaper, but to outsource this task, too. "I ask people what's new, and the do the job for me," he says.

5 Complete the sentences below:

Timothy Ferris runsbusiness.

Timothy wrote a bestseller "".

Timothy is sure that one good way to manage time is toto other people.

Timothy's friend had a dream

Ferris has a rest from his business

Timothy doesn't take the conceptas obligatory for everyone.

Pareto principle says that

Ferris found out that onlybrought him 95 per cent of revenues.

9from unproductive majority.

10is never to read a newspaper.

6 Comment on the word combinations which you came across when reading three stories. Go back to the context to explain and illustrate:

To have a reflective mood, step-children, at one stage, clockwork, to detox, to declutter, to process input fast, to talk off the cuff, to outsource, dietary-supplement, to combine a burning interest with a destination, the concept of working nine to five, information overkill.

7 The table below contains a list of personal time-management recommendations and tips coming from Penny Ferguson, Cary Cooper and Timothy Ferris. Read all three lists, think and say:

Whose list fits you personally the best?

Which items given in three lists do you consider of major importance?

Which items would you never include into your list of time-management tips?

What is your personal time-management achievement?

What is your worst time-management sin?

What five points out of three lists do you consider the most important and useful?

What five points would you put into your personal list of time-management tips?

Penny Ferguson

Сагу Cooper on their time management

Timothy Ferris

My time management

routine: I start the day by prioritizing. Then I force myself with the things that are important and don't allow myself to be distracted. I choose a quiet time in the day to delete unimportant e-mails.

What's on my desk that shouldn't be there: Sweets. Bits of paper that I have picked up more than once and then put down again, rather than dealing with them. Private photos that have been there for a month and that I haven't yet sorted out.

Biggest distractions: E-mails. People don't distract me because I am good at politely getting rid of those who disturb me.

My biggest time-waste: Thinking about private things I can't do anything about at work, especially things that happened in the past and that might happen in the future.

Top time-management tip: Decide what is important by asking. If this was never dealt with, would it matter? We tend to think of ourselves as two people - a work person and a private person. But we should integrate the time-management skills we learn at home at work, and vice versa.

The first thing I do in the morning: Prioritize! I open my e-mails, print out the ones I need, walk to my secretary's office, where the printer is, collect them and then order them on my desk Then I use them to write my "things to do " list. My time-management sin: Waiting until the last minute to do smaller writing jobs. This is bad time management. But I haven't yet let anyone down. The biggest nuisance on my desk: The pile of papers I don't really want to throw out but don't quite know what to do with. At some stage, I'll go through them and throw most of them out. My biggest time-management achievement: I've stopped trying to change colleagues who are negative. This caused me more stress than anything else. Top time-management tip: Set an exit time every day. If you know that you have to leave at a certain time, you'll make sure you get the important things done. You won't get everything done, but you have to stop somewhere if you want to have a life outside work.

Focus on doing only those things that bring income: Ask yourself, "If I had a heart attack and had to work two hours a week, what time-consuming activities -e-mail, phone calls, conversations, paper work, meetings, dealing with customers, etc. - would I cut out?" Used even once a month this question can keep you san and on track. Fold a standard piece of paper three times to make a small to-do list: Never have more than two critical items on it.

Decide which items are the most critical: Ask yourself, "If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?" Put a post-it on your computer screen with the question, "Are you inventing things to do to avoid the important things?" Accomplish more in less time :Leave work at 4 p.m. and take Monday and/or Friday off. This will force you to prioritize and work more quickly. Use short deadlines to force immediate action and ignore unimportant things.

Answer e-mails twice a day: Have the automated message telling people the two times in the day you read your message and refer them to voice mail they need you urgently.

Unit 3


1 We cannot not make decisions. Even when we decide not to decide, this is a decision . Read the questions below, think and answer them:

Have you ever been taught decision making? When, where and for what reason?

What exactly is decision making?

What are the key steps in decision making?

What makes people take bad decisions?

What kind of decision maker are you?

2Read the article by Bob Dignen from Business Spotlight (6/2008).Pay special attention to and memorize the vocabulary in bold type.


International business is a world of complexity, ambiguity and paradoxes. Decisions are often made on the basis of limited information, which makes risk management an essential discipline. And instead of the clear top-down decision-making structures of the past, organizations now expect individuals and teams to work autonomously at all levels. Greater cultural diversity has also widened the range of decision-making styles and processes, and increased the potential for conflict.

1What is decision making?

Most people would argue that we take business decisions to reach personal, team and organizational goals and that the art of decision making is simply to choose the right option from a range of possibilities. But, in practice, decision making is more complex.

First, the motivations behind our decisions may be less rational and strategic than we think: political loyalties, beliefs, environmental constraints, ethical factors and even irrational motives may play a significant role.

Second, decisions are not isolated events but part of a context of decision making.

2Key steps in decision making

To understand decision making better, it helps if we break down the process into various steps:

a)Decide to decide. The first step is to recognize that a decision needs to be taken to achieve a particular goal. This may be easier for some people than for others. Those who lack self-confidence ox fear risk may be indecisive, preferring to wait and see what happens rather than acting. Others may decide to act too quickly without thinking through the consequences, and so may be seen as impetuous.

Cultural issues may also be significant. In some national or organizational cultures, only those in senior positions can "decide to decide". In collective cultures, this decision may be a group process, which could require time to get a critical mass to support. This can be frustrating to those from a more individualistic culture, but rushing this process could lead to decisions that do not have wide acceptance.

b)Collect and evaluate information. Effective decision making requires reliable
information. But you should not collect so much information that you end up confused and paralyzed. Indeed, it will often be impossible to collect all the relevant information in the necessary timeframe. A certain information risk is often present. It can help to involve others in the information collection process to get as wide a range of opinions as possible. This provides not only better insight, but also potentially greater involvement in the implementation of any decisions.

It is important to set clear and relevant criteria to evaluate possible options. If a human-resources manager is to select training providers, price is an easy criterion to look at, but it may not be as relevant as quality criteria such as experience with similar companies, the ability to innovate or being able to deliver training in different languages.

Finally, you should know when not to take a decision. Resist the pressure to decide if you feel that waiting will allow questions to be clarified or new alternatives to emerge.

c)Decide on an option. A number of problem-solving tools can help you to compare the advantages and disadvantages of different options. On the basis of such tools and a certain amount of gut feeling, you should select the option that you think has the greatest probability of success.

Things may still stand in your way. A new turn of events may require you to rethink things. Unexpected resistance from others may necessitate a u-turn. You yourself may lack the courage to take an unpopular or difficult decision.

Fear of failure often prevents people from taking decisions. To make the right decision, you will have to manage your own fear of failure and risk. Remember the following:

Not taking risks limits opportunities for growth and improvement.

Risk is meant to be scary, so don't worry about being afraid.

We fear losing the familiar, so work hard to embrace the new.

Never be reckless: take calculated risks in a rational state of mind.

Accept a learning curve and don't try to succeed 100 per cent immediately.

When you jump, jump with 100 per cent conviction or you will hurt yourself when you land.

d)Implement the decision. Once you have made a decision, the real work starts. It is vital to

motivate yourself and others to accept the consequences of that decision and to support it with the necessary actions. If you simply announce decisions but fail to "sell and support" them, you risk resistance and failure. Effective decision makers proceed as follows:

They explain the reasons and positive intentions behind their actions.

They describe the benefits for those affected.

They have the mental energy, patience and communication skills to manage conflict.

e)Evaluate the decision. You will never improve your decision-making abilities without reflecting on the decisions you take. Analyze the extent to which key decisions achieve their goals and are supported by those around you. If they were unsuccessful, what was the reason? Remember also that it is possible to take good decisions that have a bad outcome. A decision is good if it is based on a clear goal, logical assessment of the available information and taken with the full commitment of the decision maker and others involved. If things don't turn out as expected, you can use that experience to improve your future decision-making performance.

3 Decision-making styles

Because people think and feel differently, it is not surprising that they make decisions in different ways. One interesting way of classifying decision-making styles is that of Rove and Boulgarides. In their work, they emphasize the importance of values, needs and preferences. Their model reveals four main decision-making styles, based on whether people are task-oriented or relationship-oriented and on how much cognitive complexity they prefer. The model also looks at the motivations behind decision making. The four types of decision makers are:

a) Directive decision makers. These people are task-oriented and have a strong need for power, wanting to feel they are in control of others. They also have a low tolerance for ambiguity and prefer to keep things pragmatic and simple. They tend to take decisions on the basis of less information, using fewer alternatives. They need to feel that the decision is theirs to make and no one else's.

Analytic decision makers. These people are also task-oriented. They need to achieve things and are highly motivated when dealing with a challenge. They are more tolerant of ambiguity than directive decision makers, and can tolerate higher information loads. They take time to analyze in more detail the various possible courses of action.

Conceptual decision makers. Such individuals also have a strong need for achievement. But they are people-oriented and less analytical. They are comfortable with high information loads but their data collection methods may be through talking to people, especially experts. They tend to be more creative than the more analytical decision makers and think about what can produce the best results in the long term.

Behavioural decision makers. These individuals have a strong people orientation. They tend to communicate easily, using simple and understandable messages(with low cognitive complexity). They consult with others, are open to suggestions and happy to compromise. They prefer a looser sense of leadership control. "I prefer everyone to "own" the decisions that are mine".

4 Finding your way

As we have seen, decision making is a process involving data collection and rigorous analysis. But it is also a psychological process involving human emotions and personal bias. The challenge is to develop your own approach to decision making so that you can make the most of your strengths and minimize your weaknesses.

When working internationally in teams with different mindsets and priorities, it is essential that you can incorporate these diverse perspectives into the decision making process. In this way, you will be able to increase both creativity and the team's commitment to decisions.

3Answer the questions:

What makes decision making so important today?

What definition of decision making can you suggest?

What affects decision making?

What are key steps in decision making?

What is the most essential for each step?

4Test your decision making

Look at the questions below and note down your options. Then see page .... for comments. Decision 1: A normal coin is tossed ten times and lands on heads each time. You have $1,000 to place on the next choice. Do you choose heads or tails?

Decision 2: Which is more likely: to be killed by a shark, or by parts falling from an aircraft in flight?

Decision 3: What length would a perfectly regular cube-shaped tank have to be to hold all the blood of five billion people?

Decision 4: Think about the consequences of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986. On a scale of 1 (not at all) to 100 (totally), how strong would you support the building of a nuclear reactor close to your home?

5 Test your decision making: comments

There are various reasons why people make bad decisions. Here are a number of them, which we discuss in relation to the four decisions that you were asked to make on page . . . We use poor criteria. When faced with complex decisions, people often rely on their own experiences. But these may not be good criteria. In the first decision, most people intuitively choose tails, even though the probability of heads is still 50 per cent. In the second question, the correct answer is "falling aircraft parts", but most people answer "shark attack" because of

their experience of watching films or television programmes.

We use wrong information. The third question is often answered poorly as a result of people

giving false importance to what they see as significant data. Many people estimate that the tank

must be several kilometers long because of the large number of people. In fact, the answer is

"only" just over 260 meters.

We are not objective. The fourth question is usually answered on the basis of personal values

and bias, rather than on objective criteria ("I need more information about the risks")

6Ask yourself.

1What kind of decision maker are your?

Do you like to be the first to act or are you more cautious?

Are you prepared to take risks or do you delay decisions until you are sure of the outcome? 5 How would you describe the decision-making culture where you work/study?

6 To what extent do you fit into the culture?

7 Think about your last major decision at work/university.

- To what extent did you collect the necessary amount of information? How well did you set the criteria for creating and comparing options?

-What tools (if any) do you use to help you make your decisions? Does fear of failure sometimes stop you from making decisions? If so, think about the positive aspects of risk taking.

- Think about an important decision that you made recently at work/university. How well did you sell the decision to those affected by it?

- Think about the last bad decision you made. What did you learn from the experience that helped you to take better decisions?

EXERCISE: Which type of decision maker would say what?

Four types of decision makers are: directive, analytic, conceptual and behavioural.

Look at the comment below. Match each of them to one of these decision-making styles. (The

answers are on page . . . .)

"I think our feeling here is that the third solution is the most creative and will also produce the best result in the long term. Is everyone happy with that solution?"

"On the basis of all the data that we have collected, I think it's clear that the third solution is by far the most logical."

"OK. I think that we have talked things through and have now a clear commitment from everyone. Can we agree to implement the third solution and discuss results at the end of the month?"

"Implement this approach and report back at the end of the month on results." Answers: 1 Conceptual; 2 Analytic; 3 Behavioural; 4 Directive.

SURVIVAL GUIDE: decision making to bring about change

Coaching has established itself as a useful tool to support both individuals and groups when they have to take key decisions. Co-active coaching works with questions that stimulate insight into assumptions and principles behind decision making. The following questions, based upon a template created by Sharon Drew Morgan(see www.businessballs.com), can help you to begin the process of innovative decision making.

Take a look around your working situation. What issues do you see that require a decision for change?

What has stopped you from deciding until now?

What would you need to see/hear/feel in order to take a decision?

What criteria are you using to decide what aspects of the situation need to be changed?

What needs to be changed first?

How are you going to handle of opinion in the decision-making process?

Who needs to support you so that you can take this decision?

How will you motivate them to support you?

How will you know whether you have taken the right decision?

How will you be able to make this success sustainable?


Section A

This section provides some suggestions on phrases and vocabulary that you can use when making decisions. Remember, however, that you should only use the language that you and your colleagues feel comfortable with in your specific working context.

1Deciding to decide

What do we need to decide first?

How soon do we need to take a decision

on this?

Are we in a position to take a decision?

2Defining the decision-making process

How should we decide this? Who needs to be consulted? Who should take the final decision?

I think we need to decide on a new logo.

Could you let me have a decision by next


Well, we can decide when we get the extra


I think we need to discuss . . .

We need to involve .. .

The person ultimately responsible is . . .

3Collecting information

What do we need to know to take a decision? Why can't we take a decision? What information are we waiting for?

4Setting criteria

What criteria are we going to use?

On what basis will we take our decision?

What is important here?

We need information about. . .

We don't have enough information on...

We are waiting for confirmation of. . .

Our decision should be based on . . . I think the decision should be driven by The deciding factor will be ...

5 Deciding on an option

What do you think we should do? Which option is best for you? What is your decision?

I think we should . . .

In my opinion we should decide to.

My decision is to . . .

6 Implementing the decision

What do we need to do to implement

this decision?

What do we do now?

Can we agree on an action plan?

We have to . ..

The next step is to. Yes, I suggest that

7 Reviewing the decision

Was it a good decision? Yes and no. On the one hand, we could.. .

Did we take the right decision? Yes, we did. So far. . .

Would you take this decision again? I think so.

Section В Decision-making idioms

There are many idioms and idiomatic terms in English about decisions and decision making. Here are some of the most common ones.

A done deal

This expression describes an agreement or decision that has been reached on a specific issue. "We are still looking at different options, so it's not a done deal yet."

Jumping on the bandwagon

If someone "jumps on the bandwagon", they decide to join a trend that is already very successful or fashionable.

"So many companies are jumping on the work-life balance bandwagon at the moment and starting initiatives. But I don't think they really believe in it."

Putting your money where your mouth is

People who "put their money where their mouth is" support a decision or opinion, often in some financial way, either with an investment or some kind of bet.

"Come on. If you believe England will beat Germany in November in Berlin, put your money where your mouth is and bet me $10.

Playing for time

People who "play for time" try to delay a decision in some way:

"He tried to play for time by asking for more information. I think he was hoping we would just give in and reduce our prices."


This business buzzword is used to describe the process of groups trying to find out who was responsible for a decision that produced bad results. The term comes from "brainstorming". "The meeting about the failure of our marketing campaign turned into a blamestorming session, with nobody taking responsibility. Everyone just blamed everyone else."


Bob Dignen is one of the directors of York Associates (www.york-associates.co.uk) who

specializes in language, communication and intellectual training.

Contact: bob.dianen@york-associates.co.uk


Group Communication, Peter Hartley, Routledge, ISBN 970-415-11159-1.

Harvard Business Review on Decision Making, Peter Drucker, John Hammond, Ralph

Keeny, Howard Raiffa, Aid M.Hayashi, Harvard Business School Press, ISBN 978-57851-557-

Unit 4


1 Before you read the article, take a few minutes to think and say what the word `brand' means. Give examples of your own.

2 Read the first part of the article.


I Companies invest an enormous amount of time to develop, promote and sustain their corporate brands. Think of Coca-Cola, Apple, BMW or McDonalds. Branding is a powerful way to shape customer perceptions of products or services and to influence their buying behaviour. So, if branding works for companies, why can't it work for you as an individual? Personal branding uses key corporate principles and practices to enable individuals to manage their image in the workplace. Before you read on, take a few minutes to think about the following questions. Then compare your answers to the comments in the article.

Why do you need a personal brand?

What steps should you follow to create such a brand?

What channels can you use to communicate your personal brand?

What role does culture play in personal branding?

Why do you need a personal brand?

II On the history of branding

The origin of the term "personal branding" is often traced back to a 1997 article, "The Brand Called You", by Tom Peters, one of the world's leading business experts box, He said that everyone has a personal brand, whether they like it or not. Peters defined brand primarily as what other people think about us -- the ideas and associations we stimulate in their minds by the way we look, sound and behave.

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