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From Cutting Corners to Closing Deals: 10 Useful Business English Idioms You Can’t Afford to Ignore

10 useful business idioms

As someone who’s learning or working in a business environment, you might have come across some phrases that sound strange at first, but are commonly used in everyday communication. These are idioms – expressions that have a figurative meaning different from the literal one. Mastering business English idioms can help you communicate more effectively and build better relationships with your colleagues, clients, and partners.

Here are ten common business English idioms that you should know:

  1. “Get down to business” – This means to start discussing the main topic or purpose of a meeting. It’s a polite way of saying “Let’s stop wasting time and focus on what we came here for.” You can use this phrase to transition from small talk to the actual agenda.

Example: “Now that we’ve exchanged pleasantries, let’s get down to business and talk about the marketing campaign.”

  1. “In the black” – This refers to being profitable, making more money than you are spending. It’s the opposite of “in the red,” which means you are losing money. You can use this phrase to describe the financial health of a company or a project.

Example: “Thanks to our cost-cutting measures, we’re finally in the black for the first time in months.”

  1. “Cutting corners” – This means to take shortcuts, usually in an attempt to save time or money. It can have a negative connotation if the shortcuts compromise quality or safety. You can use this phrase to caution against taking risks that could backfire later.

Example: “I understand you’re under a tight deadline, but please don’t cut corners on quality.”

  1. “Thinking outside the box” – This means to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions to a problem. It’s a way of saying “Let’s break free from the conventional way of doing things and explore new possibilities.” You can use this phrase to encourage brainstorming and experimentation.

Example: “We need to think outside the box if we want to stay ahead of our competitors.”

  1. “On the same page” – This means to have a shared understanding or agreement about something. It’s a way of saying “We’re all on board with this idea or plan.” You can use this phrase to confirm that everyone is aligned and avoid misunderstandings.

Example: “I’m glad we’re on the same page about the importance of customer service.”

  1. “Ballpark figure” – This refers to a rough estimate or approximation of a number. It’s a way of saying “I can’t give you an exact amount, but here’s a rough idea.” You can use this phrase when you don’t have all the details but need to give a general sense of something.

Example: “I can’t give you an exact cost, but a ballpark figure would be around $500.”

  1. “Behind the curve” – This means to be behind schedule or not up to date with the latest developments. It’s a way of saying “We’re falling behind our competitors or industry standards.” You can use this phrase to express a sense of urgency or the need for improvement.

Example: “We’re behind the curve on adopting new technology, which puts us at a disadvantage.”

  1. “Close the deal” – This means to successfully finalize a business transaction or agreement. It’s a way of saying “Let’s seal the deal and make it official.” You can use this phrase when you’re close to reaching an agreement or need to push for a decision.

Example: “After weeks of negotiations, we were finally able to close the deal and acquire the company.”

  1. “Keeping the lights on” – This means to stay in business or keep something running, even if it’s not profitable or sustainable in the long run. It’s a way of saying “Our main priority is survival, not growth or expansion.” You can use this phrase when you’re facing financial challenges or need to prioritize basic necessities.

Example: “We’re facing tough financial times, so our priority is to keep the lights on and stay afloat.”

  1. “Big picture” – This refers to the overall goals or vision of a project or organization, as opposed to the details or specifics. It’s a way of saying “Let’s focus on the main objective and not get bogged down in minor details.” You can use this phrase to remind yourself or others of the larger context or purpose.

Example: “It’s important to focus on the big picture and not get bogged down in minor details.”

Learning business English idioms may seem daunting at first, but it’s a valuable skill that can help you communicate more confidently and effectively in a professional setting. By using these phrases appropriately and understanding their meanings, you can build rapport with your colleagues and clients, convey your ideas more clearly, and navigate the nuances of the business world with ease. So go ahead and add these idioms to your vocabulary – you’ll be glad you did!

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