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Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 25 Idioms and Expressions Test

Speak Business English Like an American Lesson 25 Idioms and Expressions Test

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LESSON 25 – Conducting a Performance Review


It’s annual performance review time. John meets with his boss to go over his performance for the past year, hear about his strengths and weaknesses, and find out about his salary increase.

Sara: During the first half of the year, your performance was not so hot. But then you did a 180 and you started doing great.

John: Really? I was that bad at the beginning of the year?

Sara: I think it was because you were new here, and it took you a while to get up to speed. The most important thing is that you’re now a valuable member of the team.

John: That’s nice to hear.

Sara: You’ve got a knack for sales. These past few months, I’ve also seen your communication skills improve. You’re great at keeping people in the loop and making sure we all know what’s going on with your accounts.

John: Thanks. I do pride myself on my communication skills.

Sara: Of course, you still have some opportunity areas that I’d like you to work on, starting with your analytical skills. Sometimes I can’t make heads or tails of your sales forecasts.

John: How would you suggest I work on that?

Sara: I’m going to send you to a training class. Then we’ll take it from there.

John: Great. I love attending classes!

Sara: We’ll be raising your salary by 5 percent to $60,000. And, if you really go beyond the call of duty, you’ll also receive a bonus at the end of the year.


  • not so hot

 not very good

EXAMPLE: This new advertising campaign is not so hot. I think we can do better next time.

  • (to) do a 180

 to turn around; to change position completely; to improve a lot

EXAMPLE: The electronics company used to insist on manufacturing its products in the USA, but then they did a 180. Now all of their products are made in China.

NOTE: This phrase refers to 180 degrees (half of the 360 degrees of a circle). If you turn 180 degrees, you’ve moved to the opposite direction.

  • (to) get up to speed

 to learn how to do a new job or a new task

EXAMPLE: Leo had to start making sales calls his first week on the job, so he didn’t have much time to get up to speed.

  • (to) have a knack for something

 to be skilled at something; to be naturally good at something (either in a positive or a negative way)

EXAMPLE: I can’t believe Joe told you that your tie looks old-fashioned. He has a knack for making people feel bad.

  • (to) keep someone in the loop

 to let someone know what’s going on; to provide regular updates

EXAMPLE: The finance manager doesn’t need to be invited to every meeting, but be sure to keep her in the loop.

  • (to) pride oneself on something

 to be proud of; to recognize one’s own skill in a certain area

EXAMPLE: Naomi prides herself on her excellent people skills.

  • opportunity areas

 weaknesses; skills that need to be improved

EXAMPLE: The human resource manager spent 45 minutes with Kristen, reviewing her opportunity areas.

  • (to) not be able to make heads or tails of

 to be unable to interpret

EXAMPLE: Magna Corporation’s new employee health plan is very confusing. The employees can’t make heads or tails of it.

  • (to) take it from there

 to wait and see what else needs to be done; to take just one step and then decide what to do next

EXAMPLE: Let’s start by calculating how much it would cost to open an office in Budapest, and then we’ll take it from there.

  • beyond the call of duty

 more than is expected or required

EXAMPLE: Susan worked all day Sunday baking chocolate chip cookies for the office. That was beyond the call of duty.

NOTE: You will also hear the variation: above and beyond the call of duty.

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