Business English Lesson: Get the Boss to Shape Up

Business English Lesson: Get the Boss to Shape Up

Posted by Tanya Peterson on 11th Apr 2019

In this entertaining Business English lesson, you'll learn some very useful Business English idioms and expressions. It's Lesson 1 from our book Speak Better Business English and our app Business English Management.  Watch the video and then review the idioms below. Then take another look at the video and listen for all of the idioms. 



(to) upset the apple cart – to cause trouble; to create a problem; to disrupt the status quo

Example: Everybody in the department knows that Rick is a terrible accountant, but nobody wants to upset the apple cart by complaining about him.

(to) jump down someone's throat – to criticize someone strongly; to yell at someone for a mistake (often excessively)

Example: When the accountant issued the client an invoice for $50,000 instead of the $150,000 due, her boss jumped down her throat.

no-nonsense – focused on the job; efficient; dedicated

Example: “Did you get to know your boss better during your five-day business trip to China?” — “No, he’s no-nonsense, and we just talked about business the whole time.”

(to) sugarcoat – to make things seem more pleasant than they really are

Example: Emily’s boss doesn’t realize how bad things are in her department because she is so good at sugarcoating things.

(to) play favorites – to treat some people better than others

Example: Our vice president always invites the same employees out to lunch. He really knows how to play favorites.

up-and-comer – two definitions:

1) someone who has a lot of potential for success; someone who is successful at something and is very likely to be even more successful in the future

Example: Justin is known as an up-and-comer at the advertising agency, so it wasn’t surprising when he was promoted to account director.

2) a new business that is rising in popularity

Example: Although Netflix is the leader in the DVD rental market, Redbox is an up-and-comer that’s growing fast.

(to) bark orders – to tell somebody to do something in a rude manner; to make requests without saying “please” or other polite language

Example: “Maybe at your old company it was acceptable to bark orders at your colleagues, but here at Welco, we try to respect each other,” the HR director said to the sales director.

Note: This expression evokes the bark of a dog.

(to) raise an issue – to discuss a topic; to bring up a topic

Example: When Marina raised her hand during the meeting and asked the president if the staff would be let out early on Fridays over the summer, he said, “I was hoping nobody would raise that issue.”

hot button – something likely to make somebody angry

Example: If our president asks you to do something, never reply, “That’s not in my job description.” It’s one of her hot buttons.

(to) get (or give) the go ahead – to get (or give) approval for

Example: You’ll need to get the go ahead from your boss before ordering a new laptop.