Challenges at work

Challenges at work

Listen to four people talking about different business challenges to practise and improve your listening skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then listen to the audio and do the exercises.




I'll never forget the first time I met our new contact from Retrolink, one of our top five customers. I had travelled to their office to meet him in person, talk about the history of our companies together and define a shared vision for future co-operation. I wanted to focus on building a good relationship with him which would be a good foundation for working together.

So, when we met I wanted to make a good impression and also show him respect. I greeted him with a handshake and addressed him by his surname. When I put my hand out I realised he had been moving in to give me a hug, so we did an awkward mixture of the two! Also, when I greeted him by his surname, he responded politely, though he used my first name. It was all a little uncomfortable.

In this situation, I guess I made assumptions about the level of formality he expected. Even though he had never met me before, he knew our two companies had been doing business with each other for years and he wanted to build on that history by being less formal with me from the beginning. The real learning here for me was that I shouldn't assume we all have the same ideas about meeting people for the first time.


I'd never worked with a virtual team on an international project before. It was quite exciting, though also challenging to work with people from different countries, many of whom I would never actually get to meet in person. There were a lot of things that were different about working in the same office and it was quite challenging at the beginning.

For example, there were different time zones, different IT systems and even different local regulations, which impacted on what each person was allowed to, or able to, do for the project.

There were also interpersonal differences, such as different ways of working, approaches to deadlines and when to reply to emails. And we shouldn't forget the fact that English was the project language and that most people on the team had to work in a language which wasn't their first. A positive of this was that it meant that everyone, including the native English speakers, had to make the effort to communicate clearly and clarify their own and everyone else's understanding.

To help us all get on the same page, we defined the communication norms and the rules the team would follow, as well as the meeting dates and deadlines. We laid this all out in a document called a team or project charter. This was really useful and in the end the project was a great success. I'm looking forward to working on my next international project.


I went through a bit of a rough patch last year at work. I was already committed to too much and then we lost a team member through restructuring and I quickly became overloaded. This led to me doing too much overtime and feeling very stressed. My boss was really helpful and she pushed back against the unrealistic targets that had been set for our department. She also introduced me to the smart approach to goal setting. It's an acronym, S-M-A-R-T. You use it to create goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.

I used this approach to deal with all of the things that were overloading me. It helped me to prioritise some tasks, to do some later and to drop some completely.

I often use this approach now and feel much more in control of my time and workload.


Have you ever missed a flight or had one cancelled? I did. It happened to me last week. My flight home from a business trip was the last one of the day and we were told it was going to be delayed. That's always a risk at the end of each day. The ground crew kept extending the delay until eventually they cancelled the flight completely. They then told us to go back through the airport to the departures area to talk to their agent who would organise hotels for everyone and rebook us on the following day's flight.

As soon as they made the announcement about the cancellation, I knew I had to think quickly as it would not be likely that the flight would have capacity to take everyone from my cancelled flight. I hurried back through the airport and was one of the first to make it to the desk. That turned out to be a good idea, as there were only nine seats available on the flight the next morning. Everyone else had to fly to a different airport and then continue back to our destination airport in coaches. Lucky me! Right?


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Submitted by vsanchez75 on Sat, 30/12/2023 - 02:33


I have had different challenges in my job, I work in the systems area and therefore I must be tolerable to stress. Over time I have learned to distinguish what is urgent and what is important and in this way prioritize my tasks through planning.

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Submitted by Ramiro Solana on Wed, 09/08/2023 - 17:42


I have no doubt that any job has its own challenges. In my case, the main challenges I faced during my working life as an Information Technology Consultant were dealing with overlapping priorities, stressed due dates, and helping my team and the client's team with their activities to achieve our shared goals.

Submitted by PilarContreras on Mon, 20/03/2023 - 21:00


I think that the difficult part is putting together a work team, since people come from different experiences and professions, which means that each one has a different approach to reality, to working with other people, etc.
Even using many different tools, the team can break down. For me, the most important thing is to listen to different ways to think and learn that one does not have the truth.

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Submitted by Magedelabd on Sat, 05/11/2022 - 12:14


off course I had challenges in work. And I do not think that there is somebody whom did not face a difficulties at work . So let share with you some of what I faced during my long time work live . As I remember I started work when I was in the high school . I started to work as a worker in the fish market carrying fish boxes from the fish car to the fish store. My challenge it was how to reach the fish market , I had to be there early at 4 AM , the distance between my home and the fish market was about 6 Km . and early at 4 Am it was impossible to find a transportation to drop me work . Then the solution was to walk to work .

Submitted by Ehsan on Thu, 20/10/2022 - 06:59


yes, in these situations I classify my tasks and do those are important first. I move the others to another days. I have understood it is important to keep calm.

Submitted by jmajo on Wed, 22/06/2022 - 15:35


Yes I do, I face challenges once or two times in a week when some service goes down and I have to find a solution quickly or when I am asked for a consult related with the use of some of the function in one of our systems that I’ve never used before and I need to investigate the best way to use it.
Most of the times I can find a solution by myself researching on the documentation that we have, but some times I have to search on the internet or ask for support on the provider if we can’t solve it on our

Thanks for the episode.
Great site!

Submitted by Aisuluu on Fri, 15/04/2022 - 09:39


Do you ever face challenges at work? How do you overcome them?
At the beginning of my career as an intern, I faced challenges that eventually led me to a stress state. This was my first experience in office work, and office operations, every process was new to me, and my supervisor had not much time to teach me, so I had to learn and complete tasks on the go. But now I am grateful for this experience that is still actual in my current job.

Submitted by Mariana133 on Mon, 14/03/2022 - 20:07


I work as a purchasing manager and it is vital for me and for a company itself to communicate effectively with sales department. However, some misunderstandings sometimes occur as it is quite common that customers are not satisfied with quotations. In turn, sales managers blame purchasing deprtments for not being able to buy a particular product for lower cost and therefore offer rock-bottom price. As a rule, cost of a product is directly associated with quality. Therefore, I striving to monitor whether the same product can be low-priced indeed and negotiate with my supplier directly.

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Fri, 15/10/2021 - 09:55


Yes, I'm facing lots of challenges in study as I'm very lazy and I sleeping most time. I'm trying to overcome this.

Submitted by RuthYong on Thu, 14/10/2021 - 08:48


Yes, it is common for most employees to face challenges at work. I am currently teaching online to the refugees and some local students. Sometimes, they wouldn't show up and tend to give excuses. I would normally face those challenges with an open mind and talk to my supervisor. I would also constantly remind my students to have self-discipline. The important thing is to do my best.