Real English Conversations: annoying coworkers

learn English conversation with our new podcast format: Real English Conversations
Hi, this is Lori from Better at English dot com, coming at you with a brand new format today: Real English conversations.

Here at Better at English, we believe that learners need to hear authentic conversational English as it’s spoken by first-language speakers, not just the simplified, stilted, unnatural, boring, wishful-thinking language you find in most mass-market English teaching materials. So we’re proud to introduce our new format: Real English Conversations. This format will feature first-language speakers of English engaging in unscripted, spontaneous conversations.

Now because Better at English is based in southern Sweden, my access to first-language speakers of English is somewhat limited. So for the time being, you’ll mainly be hearing me and my friend Michael, who is from England. That way you can hear both American English and British or “English” English in the same podcast. We’ll keep these short and snappy, between two and five minutes long, and we’ll always provide a transcription and vocabulary list. So if you’re listening to our podcast via iTunes or some other podcatcher, remember that you can surf to our website, W W W dot Better at English dot com, to read the transcript and get the vocabulary list. We hope you’ll enjoy and benefit from our new format. So, without further ado, here we go with our first episode of Real English Conversations.

Conversation Transcript

Lori: Uhh, I came across this really funny website the other day… It’s, umm, designed to where people can anonymously send an e-mail to an annoying coworker…

Michael: Mmm hmm…

L: Saying things like, “You really need to use deodorant [laughter]…but we’re too shy to tell you”… and they, you know, you just put in their e-mail address…

M: Okay

L: Umm, and it got me thinking about annoying coworkers…

M: Okay

L: Can…Do you have any memories of particularly irritating and annoying people at work?

M: Well, I don’t remember anyone who was…smelly, ummm


M: But there was there was one guy who was rather irritating, umm, he was, actually, he was someone who I, who I answered to, he was…

L: He was your manager?

M: He was…yeah…he was, he was a manager at my department.

L: Uh huh.

M: And..umm…what he would do would be if myself ..or..or..and one of my colleagues were having a conversation that was in any way, uhh, related to something other than the immediate job that we were working on…

L: Uh huh.

M: …he would, uhh, jump in there and and and, uhh, tell us off! For doing it…

L: Really?

M: For doing it…yeah!

L: For just chatting while you were working?

M: Yeah, oh yeah! It it it could be…you could be sitting at your desk and your friend is sitting across from you and you could say, “So…you have a good weekend, Steve?” and before you’ve even got a chance to start the conversation, you know, our boss would, would chip in and say [imitating odious boss] “Ah, gentlemen I don’t think that’s work-related, could we have a bit less chatter please?”

L: [laughter] No! Did he..

M: And he did actually use to speak like that as well.

L: Really?

M: Yeah, that was, that was, his tone of voice was annoying but that wasn’t the point, it was, it was just that he wouldn’t allow non-work-related topics of conversation. Which…okay…

L: That’s right, because everyone knows that we all work much better and more efficiently when we’re miserable.

M: [Laughter] Well, yeah… That’s uhh, I..he..I don’t think he cared about that, but, okay, I mean, if if if that was … If it was going to be a very draconian and strict regime at work, then I guess that’s fair enough. But it wasn’t a two-way system and and and this was what was particularly annoying, because when it was lunch time or break time this same manager would not be averse to approaching me and asking me about work-related issues whilst I was trying to eat my lunch or, you know, whilst I was…

L: OK, and you were on, then, on your own time not on company time while you’re eating lunch…

M: Oh yeah! Yeah, this this is company allotted, daily company time when you know you’re supposed to go out and have a cigarette and do whatever you do on your break time.

L: But it’s really considered your own personal time…

M: Absolutely! Yeah…

L: …your break from work…

M: Yeah

L: …and he had no problems encroaching on YOUR time.

M: No no.

L: OK.

M: No no..that was…so..

L: He sounds like somewhat of a jerk.

M: It was a..He was a hypocrite, for sure.

L: Can you do the voice again?

M: [Imitating odious manager]: The voice, oh he used to speak like that… “But I don’t think this is very work related, so think we should stop now.”

L: [laughs] OK, let’s stop now.

Thanks for tuning in to this edition of Better at English. Remember, transcripts and vocabulary lists are available at our website, WWW dot Better at English dot com. See you next time!

Vocabulary list – key words and phrases

To come across something – phrasal verb
To find something
If someone is anonymous, their name is unknown or not made public
If someone or something is annoying, it makes you feel angry
If someone or something is irritating, it makes you feel angry or annoyed
A coworker is somebody you work with
to answer to someone – phrasal verb
If you answer to someone, then you report to them. You take orders from them.
Someone who controls and organizes other people in a business. A boss.
A part of a business or organization that deals with a certain area of work. For example, the finance department, the accounts department, the customer service department
Someone you work together with (like coworker). Also, someone who is in the same profession as you
In this conversation, immediate means “directly related to”
to jump in — phrasal verb
In this conversation, to jump in means to interrupt someone who is speaking
to tell someone off (for something) — phrasal verb
If you tell someone off, you speak angrily with them because you think they have done something wrong.
to chip in – phrasal verb
In American English, “to chip in” usually means to contribute something. People in an office may all “chip in” to buy a co-worker a birthday present. In informal British English, “to chip in” means to interrupt. This is what Michael means in the dialog here.
to allow (someone to do) something
to permit
the point
The most important part of what someone says, the main idea
fair enough
You say “fair enough” to show that you understand why someone does something, but don’t really agree with it.
using your time well and working in a quick and organized way.
draconian is a word used to describe rules, procedures and methods that are unreasonably severe
a (usually disapproving) word to describe a government or a business’s methods and practices. In our podcast, Michael is showing disapproval of the odious manager’s strict “all work – no chatting” rules.
If you are averse to something, you strongly dislike it or are opposed to it
to approach someone
To come near someone. Here, the manager approaches Michael during his breaks to talk to him about work.
to be on your own time
American English: during time when you are not being paid to work. British English “IN your own time”
to be on company time
time when you are being paid to work
An unpleasant or stupid person. Usually said about men
Someone who claims to believe in one thing, and then acts in a way that is the opposite.