This week, instead of focusing on one word and the many phrases created with that word, I prefer a change of pace and focus on my client’s ‘Business Meeting Favorites.’ I have clients who speak English well and took all the right classes. Yet even in a professional environment they struggle with natural conversation skills, fast-talkers and numerous phrases. When they tell me they attend meetings and don't understand some of what is said, I know we must review common comments in a meeting or office environment. HAVE YOU EVER HEARD……I need a change of pace? Of course you did—I just wrote it in the paragraph above. First, pace means a rate or speed of movement: a manner of gait: a routine. A change of pace means wanting to change the usual routine. Example: I’ve been working on the same project every morning for months. I need a change of pace. Something different. Maybe even a vacation. Have you ever been completely confused by your boss directing his attention at you and saying, “I’m all ears” when it is obvious that although his ears may be large, he did not turn into a body part but looks the same as the other humans? Well, that’s understandable because he’s using a phrase that means he is giving you his full attention. Maybe he was on the phone, taking notes, listening to comments while you set up your important presentation. Then, professional that he is, stops all the diversions and gives you his full attention, not allowing any disruption. ‘I’m all ears’ simply means—I am listening. I hear every word you say and I am open to what you say. You have my full attention. Yet, this can also be used sarcastically. We’ll address ‘sarcasm’ later. You will need to understand this. You will thank me. If a worker arrives late every day for a month and consistently has a complicated and hard-to-believe excuse, his boss might sit back, with a mix of humor and disdain, waiting for the implausible story to begin, and say sarcastically, “Let’s here the excuse today. I’m aaaaaall ears.” He does not look nice. This is not the polite attention you received in the meeting. He can’t wait to hear his big lies before he fires him. Your co-worker needs to look for another job. NOTE: Can’t Wait- impatient. It is difficult to wait because you look forward to something. Oops, there’s another one. To look forward is to feel pleased and excited about something that is going to happen. Optimistic and welcoming the future. Let us return to the meeting where your boss has just said, “I’m all ears.” You have his attention. You have everyone’s attention. You are ready to start when he says the next confusing phrase… “Okay, you have the floor.” You think: I have the what? Why would I take the floor? It belongs to the company. This is a common phrase that also tells you that all polite attention is on you without interruption. It probably comes from the word ‘stage’ where actors or musicians perform. If you are ‘on stage’ you are the center of attention and must speak or perform. Since most presentations in front of the boss feel like a performance, this is an appropriate phrase. Examples: Everyone be quiet, Lee has the floor now. Only Lee will speak and present. We can ask questions after he is finished. Okay. Sarcasm. I must say I disagree with the dictionary definition, or rather, I don't think it explains it fully. Although it’s true that sarcasm can be mocking, contemptuous and ironic, it also uses a tone in conversation that mockingly and often humorously means the opposite of what is being said. This is a difficult one because I cannot demonstrate the tone I use in my lessons to properly explain this to clients. A sarcastic statement: Oh, yes, I can’t WAIT for the final exams. No sleep for weeks and stress sound SO wonderful. Using the right tone, most people will understand you mean the opposite—the complete opposite. Sometimes sarcasm is unkind- but often it is used for humor. It is easy to be offended or confused if you are not familiar with this kind of humor and comment. Schedule a session with an experienced corporate professional to improve all of your communications.