Phrasal Verbs in Context: Meeting over Coffee

If you’re a regular reader of the Lingua Link DC blog you know I focus a lot on business and diplomacy. Many of my students work in these areas and want to improve not only the technical accuracy of their English, but also their ability to build important relationships. Meetings are one of the most common ways to make connections in business and diplomacy. They’re where information is exchanged, and more importantly, how relationships are formed.

When it comes to communicating effectively in meetings, phrasal verbs are your friends once again. During my English coaching sessions I always make sure to contextualize phrasal verbs for clients who want to take their English to the next level. If you need to brush up on the basics of phrasal verbs check out my posts on beginning business phrasal verbs and business English for success. While it’s still common to hold meetings in a traditional office space, meeting outside the office is becoming more and more popular.

Let’s say you’re having a business meeting at a cafe instead of your office. Here’s a sample dialogue:

Jane: Hi Sarah. Sorry for being so late. I was stuck in traffic. DC is famous for its crazy traffic. Have you been waiting long?

Sarah: Not too long. About twenty minutes. I just took the time to go over (review) my notes again and catch up with (do something that should be done) my emails. 

Jane: Oh, I’m so sorry I kept you waiting. There was a motorcade with some foreign dignitaries due to The Spring Meetings at the World Bank. Sometimes you just don’t know what you’ll run into (encounter by chance) when you get into (enter) your car in this city.

Sarah: No problem at all. What would you like? Coffee, tea? Decaf?

Jane: I think I’ll have a macchiato.

Sarah: Great. I’ll have one too. I’ll grab some for us real quick. So, how’s it going?

Jane: Well, thank you. How are you?

Sarah:  Great...just really busy. I’ve been slammed (having a lot of work) at work. It’s been hard to keep up with (stay on top of) all my emails and new projects coming in (arriving). By the way, earlier today I was just walking out the door when my boss called me in (asked to do something) to introduce me to a long-standing client, and it turned out he’s your friend John. Did you know that he’s been working with us for a while already?

Jane: Oh yeah. That’s interesting. Even more reason to meet up with you and talk strategy. It speaks to (says a lot about) the quality of your firm’s services that John chose you to put together (design) his online marketing strategy.

Sarah: You know we’ve been working hard on this new social media strategy for a European fashion brand you may know: Fabulous Clothing. We’ve been putting in (doing) hours and hours of work and we don’t seem to be getting anywhere. I think we need some extra help with our market analysis.

Jane: You’re not getting anywhere? In what way?

Sarah: I think what we have run up against (been confronted with) is a knowledge gap between how individual European markets respond to various social media strategies and what resonates with Americans.

Jane: That is certainly something we could help with. We could, for example, run a bunch of tests and see what creates the biggest buzz (response) on social media for your client...not to get too off topic (change the subject)...but did you get the message I left you about the comparative social media strategy analysis our firm ran in Europe and the United States on our competitor’s strategy in Boston?

Sarah: Yes, I did. I’m sorry I meant to get back to (reply) you about that.

Jane: Well, what do you think? Do you think we could work something out (agree) using that type of approach?

Sarah: In terms of what exactly?

Jane: Well, in terms of whether your firm would be prepared to have us step in (take their place) should we need to. We could take over (take their place) immediately especially given the bad results of their strategy.

Sarah: I can’t see why that would be a problem. Even though I didn’t get back to you right away, we have been very much aware of their dismal (very bad) performance. Let me just check in (talk to) with everyone at my company first. I also still need to run this by (tell) my managing partners.

Jane: If you could do that sooner rather than later, I’d appreciate it.

Sarah: I’ll see what I can do.

Jane: Great. Now you set this meeting up (arranged) to talk about more than just what has been happening with our companies. So what can I do for you personally?

Sarah: Well, I was wondering if you could put in a good word for me (say something positive) at the next board meeting?

Jane: Of course I can. After all, what are good friends for if we can’t stick up for (support) each other.

Sarah: Thanks so much. I really didn’t know who to turn to (get help from).

Jane: You can always count on (depend on) my support.

Sarah: You’re not only a great client, you’re actually my friend, and I am really glad we get to work together.

I hope that by putting the phrasal verbs in context you’ll understand their meaning better. Next time you’re reading in English, look out for (pay extra attention to spotting) the phrasal verbs and try and work out (understand) their meaning in context.

Remember, phrasal verbs are your friends. They help you communicate better and sound more like a native English speaker. Also, as I always tell my students during our coaching sessions, don’t just memorize lists of phrasal verbs. Contextualize them and understand that most of them have a literal meaning which helps you figure out their metaphorical meaning. Now go out and have happy, and productive, meetings.