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Interrupting and handling interruptions

Listen to the recording of a discussion in the European sales office of an American sport utility vehicle (SUV) manufacturer, Amass. It concerns the advertising plans for the launch of a new truck, the Amass 4 PLUS. The marketing manager, Matt Haslam, is explaining his ideas. Mark the following statements as True (T) or False (F).


a) The truck will be sold to professional users of SUVs.

b) It is not going to be used as a mass market SUV.

c) Matt wants to keep the same agency they have always used.

d) Matt used his own research to help him make decisions.

e) Changing advertising agencies would cost 50% more.

Listen again. Number the following interrupting phrases in the order in which you hear them.

a) Yes, but Matt, it 1 can interrupt you again. We're talking serious money here. We've got to be careful ...

b) Er, excuse me, Matt, just a moment. That's a big claim ...

c) It's the most important thing ...

d) One moment! Clan we start with a few basics?

e) Yes, so, a select, professional market first, then the mass market SUV.

f) But why? CMA have been okay in the past.

g) Let's just clarify where ... who the audience is, what's the target group …

h) What! Most agencies charge a lot more than CMA.

i) You plan to use our usual agency, CMA?



3.a) Discuss the style of the Amass meeting.

b) How does Matt handle the interruptions?

c) Do you think the interruptions are appropriate?



4. Interruptions can have different intentions:

A) In pairs, suggest examples of each of these.

1 ask for clarification

2 add opinion

3 ask for more details

4 change direction of the discussion

5 disagree.


B) Below is part of a discussion between directors of an oil company talking about a fall in sales. In pairs, suggest appropriate interruptions to complete the dialogue.


A: The fall in sales is mainly due to the recession affecting world markets.

B: _____

A: Well, it's a general fall of around 5% in sales for most product areas. Also, specifically in the oil processing sector, we have much lower sales, mainly because we sold our UK subsidiary, Anglo Oils.

B: _____

A: Well, no, I'd rather not go into that. We discussed that in previous meetings. I'd prefer to talk about future prospects. The outlook is very good right now ...

B: _____

A: I'm very surprised you say that. In fact, sales forecasts are much better now. Anyway, let me tell you ...

B: _____

A: New markets? Yes, but can we talk about new markets later? I have some important information on that. But first...

B: _____

A: Take a break? We've only just started!



There are different ways of handling interruptions.

a) In pairs, suggest one or two appropriate phrases for the following:

1 promise tocome back to a point later

2 politely disagree with an interruption

3 say the interruption is not relevant or that time is short

4 politely accept the interruption and respond to it before continuing

5 rejecting a suggestion.


b) Listen to a complete model version of the dialogue in Exercise 4 above. In pairs, match each of the five examples of handling an interruption to one of the ways listed above (1-5).



Use the skeleton outline on the next page to recreate the entire dialogue with a partner.

Choose alternative interruptions and ways of handling interruptions.


Practice 2

This task is based on a discussion about investment in public transportation. Work in pairs, A and B. Student A should look at File card 5A (p. 53). Student B should read File card 5B (p. 53).

Role play

This role play consists of an internal company meeting. It is designed to cover the objectives of this unit and also chairing meetings and leading discussion from Unit 1. Work in groups of between four and six.

The chair of the meeting should look at File card 10 (p. 55). Other participants should look at File cards 11-15 (p. 55-57).


Introduction – for all participants

You are directors of a food processing company called Add Passam Inc. (API). The company has been linked with a scandal involving a businessman and property developer called Jordi Cass. It has been revealed that six years ago Cass bought land from the local city authority at 20% of its true market value. He sold the land one year later at a 500% profit. Cass was an adviser to API at the time as a property consultant. The press has suggested that directors of API knew of the scandal, but said nothing because the company and in particular the founder and managing director, Mikel Adela, stood to profit from Cass's deal. Also Cass was – and still is – a friend of Mikel Adela's son, Sam Adela, a director of the company. Mikel Adela died a year ago. Another API director, Marta Lucas, is married to the man who was leader of the ruling Democratic People's Party on the City Council when the land was originally sold to Cass.


The Board of AIM meets to discuss what action they should take. They are worried that the reputation of the company will be damaged and that its excellent relationship with the local community and its employees will suffer.



Sam Adela (Chair) Anton Hassim (Director)

Jay Worthy (Legal Advisor to API) Pat Joyce (Director)

Marta Lucas (Director) Bernie Callam (Accountant)




Summarize your impressions of the Adel Passam meeting you have taken part in. Classify it according to one of the following types:

• decision making meeting

• information giving meeting

• discussion meeting.

How effective was the meeting?

How effective was the chair?

How could the meeting have been better?

In what ways did the work covered in this unit help with the meeting?


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