Are you nervous when you meet someone face to face who speaks English? Do you want to understand the typical expressions, idioms, and vocabulary used during initial greetings and meetings? This lesson will start you off on the right foot with potential clients, partners, and others.

Greeting and Dealing with Clients and Visitors

Vocabulary – Expressions – Phrasal Verbs – Idioms:

I would like to introduce… – used when introducing people to each other. At the most basic level, you will include their full name. It is good to give the title, role,  and other relevant information to help start a discussion.

Self-introduction – the act of introducing yourself to someone. This usually includes your name and position within the company.

Pardon me, can you repeat… – how to politely ask someone to repeat something they have said when you do not understand. Do not be shy to ask someone to repeat what they have said.

Icebreakers – easy to talk about topics that people use to get the initial conversation going. This is also referred to as small talk.

How may I help you? – a polite way of asking a client or visitor what they need.

Please have a seat – a common way of asking someone to sit down. This may also be stated as please take a seat.

Long time, no see –  an informal comment that may be made to a someone you have not see in a long time.

Nice to see you again –  used when you meet a person who you have met before.

I’m not sure, but I will find out – an appropriate response when a client asks you a question that you do not have the answer to. Never try to create an answer. Instead, ask someone who has more knowledge on the subject.

Word of mouth – may be said by a client when asked where or how they learned about your company. In most cases, word of mouth refers to a friend, acquaintance, or family member.

First impression – this refers to the first time you encounter a client and largely determines how they feel about you. First impressions are critical and can be affected by your appearance, speech, and mannerisms.

Greating and Dealing with Clients Live Example

Live Example:

Jim was worried that he would not make a good first impression with his new client. To prepare, he practiced his self-introduction and reminded himself of the importance of asking, “How may I help you?”  He also practiced saying, “I’m not sure, but I will find out.” When he met his client, he was surprised to realize he knew a partner of the client, who immediately said, “Long time, no see”. After asking the client to please have a seat, Jim learned it was through word of mouth that the client learned Jim had left his old employer and started working for a new company.

The new client could not speak English well, so he asked Jim “pardon me, can you repeat what you said.” many times. Jim was understanding and does well with new people due to his well thought out icebreakers that help to start useful discussions. He gave the client a good first impression so the initial meeting went well.


Greeting and Dealing with Clients and Visitors Live Conversation Example

Live Conversation Example:

Jim: Hi, how may I help you?
Betty: Long time, no see.
Jim: Wow! I have not seen you since I worked at Tyco. I guess there is no reason for a self-introduction or to worry about a first impression. Please have a seat and tell me why you are here.
Betty: I enjoyed working with you at Tyco.  Through word of mouth, I found out you were now employed here and thought I would come in and ask you if you were interested in doing some web design work for me.
Jim: Of course.
Betty: I would like to introduce you to my partner Bill. Please speak slowly since he does not speak English well.
Jim: Ok, no problem. Bill can also ask me to repeat myself at any time.

Greeting and Dealing with Clients and Visitors Practice


Be aware that when someone asks you how you are in a business setting, they do not want a long answer. Typically, the best response is a simple, “Fine, and you?” This allows the conversation to comfortably move forward.

It is customary to shake hands when you meet someone.  Make certain your handshake is firm and that you maintain eye contact while doing this.

What are some subjects that you would talk about when first meeting someone? What are some subjects that you would not talk about when first meeting someone?

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