This is a role-play scenario to work on with your teacher.

You will play someone who works in a small startup company. Your teacher will play your manager.

The Scenario

One of the key skills in business is being able to say something negative without upsetting people.


Your boss has had an idea for a new way of working. You think some of it makes sense, but some parts of it are really stupid and will actually make things worse.

Talk to your manager and explain your thoughts, but try not to make him feel angry or insulted.

Useful Vocabulary

"Have you thought about..."

A diplomatic way to suggest someone consider an alternative

"I'm not sure..."

Used to soften a statement: "It's a great idea, but I'm not sure we'd be able to do it in time"

"Maybe a better approach..."

A polite way of suggesting an alternative, without directly rejecting someone else's suggestion


Honest and direct in communication. Sometimes meaning "too direct"

To get it

To indicate that you understand what someone is saying. "Ah, so the network isn't fast enough. I get it"

"I'm afraid..."

Used to soften a statement: "I'm afraid we tried that already. It didn't work"

"It would be helpful if..."

Polite way of asking if something could be done. "It would be helpful if we could review the figures from last year first"

Middle ground

An outcome where no-one gets what they want, but everyone gets something. A compromise

To achieve the same outcome

To get the same effect in a different way

To need a bit of work

A polite way of saying that you need to improve. "Technically excellent, but communication needs a bit of work"

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