Speak Business English Like an American » LESSON 18 - Discussing Office Scandals

Discussing Office Scandals

With his naughty behavior, Bill Swing provides plenty of material for office gossip. Cindy and Steve discuss his latest move and review his other recent insensitive behavior.

Cindy: Did you hear the latest dirt?

Steve: Of course not. I'm totally out of the loop! I'm always the last one to find out everything.

Cindy: According to the rumor mill, Bill Swing made a pass at Laura Teller, the new marketing manager. Now she's threatening to sue him for sexual harassment.

Steve: Sounds like Bill's up to his old tricks again. He's always on the make. Last year, Paula Reynolds accused him of pinching her...

Cindy: I remember that. Too bad Paula quit before they could get to the bottom of it.

Steve: Two years ago he got nailed for organizing a company offsite to a strip joint!

Cindy: Oh, that really takes the cake. That's so un-PC!

Steve: Bill is definitely not politically correct!

Cindy: What goes around comes around. One day, he'll get his.

Idioms
  • the latest dirt
    the latest gossip
    EXAMPLE: Have you heard the latest dirt? Rob was fired for calling the chairman of the board a "jerk" to his face.
  • out of the loop
    unaware of what's going on
    EXAMPLE: If you want to know what's really going on at the company, don't bother asking Adam. He's out of the loop.
  • according to the rumor mill
    according to gossip
    EXAMPLE: According to the rumor mill, Neil didn't leave his position voluntarily. He was fired.
  • (to) make a pass at someone
    to make a sexual advance toward someone
    EXAMPLE: Glen got drunk at the office holiday party and made a pass at Amber, his secretary. Unfortunately for Glen, Amber's boyfriend was in the same room!
  • up to one's old tricks
    repeating the same behavior as before (usually annoying, dishonest, or sneaky behavior)
    EXAMPLE: Our boss is up to his old tricks. This is the third time we've gone out to lunch and he's forgotten his wallet back at the office.
  • on the make
    This idiom has 2 very different meanings: 1) actively looking for a sexual partner. 2) aggressively trying to improve one's social or financial status
    EXAMPLE1: Look at Ron flirting with our new receptionist! He's always on the make.
    EXAMPLE2: Jeff works 80-hour weeks as an investment banker in Manhattan. He's as an ambitious young man on the make.
  • (to) get to the bottom of something
    to figure out what's going on; to find out what's causing a problem
    EXAMPLE: When hundreds of people had heart attacks after taking Zylestra's new prescription drug, the Federal Drug Administration promised to get to the bottom of it.
  • (to) get nailed
    to get in trouble; to get caught doing something
    EXAMPLE: Troy tried to cheat on his expense report by including a dinner he had with his girlfriend, but he got nailed and had to return the money.
  • (to) take the cake
    to rank first; to be the best or worst example of something
    EXAMPLE: Stuart stole your idea and presented it as his own during the meeting? That really takes the cake!

    ORIGIN: Dating back to Ancient Greek times, a cake was a popular prize given to contest winners.

  • un-PC
    insensitive; offensive; not politically correct (PC)
    EXAMPLE: George came right out and asked his colleague if he was gay? That's so un-PC!
  • politically correct (PC)
    This expression refers to language or behavior that is carefully controlled (sometimes too controlled) to avoid offending people based on gender, ethnicity, etc. The concept emerged in the 1980's in the United States. Nowadays, it often has a negative meaning.
    EXAMPLE: The university president suggested that women may not be as good at men in science because of differences in their brains? That's not politically correct!
  • what goes around comes around
    people usually get what they deserve in the end
    EXAMPLE: Dana is always trying to steal everybody else's clients. But what goes around comes around.
  • he'll get his / she'll get hers
    something bad will happen to him (or her), just as he (or she) deserves
    EXAMPLE: Cheryl got promoted to vice president after firing half her staff? Don't worry, she'll get hers.

    SYNONYM: he (or she) will get what's coming to him (or her)

Practice The Idioms

Choose the best substitute for the phrase or sentence in bold:

  1. Jake says he only hires pretty girls to work at his restaurant. He's so un-PC!
    • a) bad with computers
    • b) kind
    • c) offensive
  2. Tiffany called in sick on Tuesday, and she showed up for work on Wednesday with a sun tan. She's going to get nailed for lying about being sick.
    • a) be awarded
    • b) get in trouble
    • c) get fired
  3. Brad said that Tammy made a pass at him while they were on a business trip in Moscow.
    • a) tried to initiate a sexual relationship with him
    • b) threw a football at him
    • c) was rude to him
  4. Frank keeps taking all of the best customer accounts for himself. We hope that one of these days, he'll get his.
    • a) he'll get his own accounts
    • b) something bad will happen to him
    • c) he'll actually earn the accounts he's taking
  5. I'm not surprised that Randy kept trying to put his arm around you during the business dinner. He's always on the make.
    • a) affectionate in public
    • b) looking for romance
    • c) moving quickly
  6. Our CEO was one of the last people to hear of the accounting scandal at our company. He's so out of the loop!
    • a) aware of what's going on
    • b) unaware of what's going on
    • c) curious about what's going on
  7. Monica loves to gossip, so you can always count on her for the latest dirt.
    • a) most up-to-date gossip
    • b) news of important current events
    • c) nastiest rumors
  8. Three months after he laid off thousands of employees on Christmas Eve, the CEO himself was fired. What goes around comes around.
    • a) When you fire somebody, you'll probably get fired yourself soon.
    • b) The CEO will still come around the offices.
    • c) When people do bad things, they're usually punished in the end.
Answer Key
Practice The Idioms
  1. c
  2. b
  3. a
  4. b
  5. b
  6. b
  7. a
  8. c
Answer Key
Favorite Books

If you already speak some English and now would like to speak more like a native, “Speak English Like an American” will help you. One of the keys to speaking like a native is the ability to use and understand casual expressions, or idioms. American English is full of idioms. Speak English Like an American will help you understand and use idioms better. It contains over 300 of today's most common idioms.

Read more

English idioms, proverbs, and expressions are an important part of everyday English. They come up all the time in both written and spoken English. Because idioms don't always make sense literally, you'll need to familiarize yourself with the meaning and usage of each idiom. That may seem like a lot of work, but learning idioms is fun, especially when you compare English idioms to the idioms in your own language.

Read more

The purpose of the Illustrated Everyday Expressions with Stories series is to introduce English language learners to common idioms through humorous examples and illustrations. The lessons in this book will both entertain and enlighten students while providing exposure to how each idiom can be used in a variety of contexts.

Read more

The purpose of the Illustrated Everyday Expressions with Stories series is to introduce English language learners to common idioms through humorous examples and illustrations. The lessons in this book will both entertain and enlighten students while providing exposure to how each idiom can be used in a variety of contexts.

Read more

Do you want your English to sound natural and fluent? Idiomatic expressions are essential to natural sounding English, but they can be challenging to remember, and even harder to use in conversation. This simple and straightforward program can help you master hundreds of useful and common idiomatic expressions. Best of all, you don't need a book, so you can listen anywhere and anytime it's convenient. It's a piece of cake!

Read more