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Welcome back to The Art of Business English. In this week's episode we are going to learn some expressions to describe difficult situations. Sadly, from time to time, we all have to deal with things that annoy us or cause stress. These phrases will widen your knowledge of vocabulary for talking about them in English.

First, I will present the phrase and describe the meaning, and then I’m going to give you an example of its use.

Let’s dive in!

Sticky situation

Meaning:

A sticky situation, question, or problem is difficult to deal with or dangerous.

Example:

“There was a sticky situation during the meeting, but everything turned out all right in the end.”

Watch the episode here

Uncomfortable position

Meaning:

A situation that feels embarrassing or unpleasant.

Example:

“The conservative party finds itself in an uncomfortable position.”

Delicate situation

Meaning:

A situation that needs to be dealt with carefully or sensitively in order to avoid problems or failure.

Example:

“This is an extremely delicate situation, and one which requires careful thought and discussion before we decide on any action which might be appropriate.”

Tricky situation

Meaning:

A situation that is difficult to deal with or do because it is complicated and full of problems.

Example:

“I must say that he dealt remarkably well with a rather tricky situation, given the lack of time.”

To be in deep water

Meaning:

To be in trouble or in a difficult or serious situation.

Example:

“The director knew he'd be in deep water if he didn't mention his wife in his acceptance speech.”

To be in a tight spot/corner

Meaning:

Informal expression for a difficult situation or bad position.

Example:

“The union strike will put the chairman in a very tight spot.”

To be in an embarrassing position

Meaning:

To be in a situation that makes you feel ashamed, nervous, or uncomfortable.

Example:

“It's easy for recipients to forward messages to others, which could leave you in an embarrassing position if you divulge personal or confidential information.”

To be in hot water

Meaning:

To be in or get into a difficult situation in which you are in danger of being criticized or punished.

Example:

“He found himself in hot water over his comments about immigration.”

Business Idioms

This six module course helps English language learners build their knowledge of business idioms and their understanding of them in different business scenarios.

We cover idioms for marketing, finance, behaviour, operations and production, management and planning.

To have no way out

Meaning:

Without a way to escape a difficult or bad situation.

Example:

“I didn't like it there at all, but I had no way out.”

To be in a quandary

Meaning:

Not being able to decide what to do about a situation in which you are involved.

Example:

“He was in a quandary about which candidate to choose.”

To be in a pickle

Meaning:

Old-fashioned slang for being in a very difficult situation and not knowing what to do. Fun fact: it is believed that this expression started to be used since Shakespeare included it on his play The Tempest.

Example:

“We're in a pickle now because the hotel gave our room away!”

To be between a rock and a hard place

Meaning:

To be in a very difficult situation and to have to make a hard decision.

Example:

“European leaders are between a rock and a hard place with regards to ensuring a stable supply of gas to the region.”

Final thoughts

There you have it! Though we rarely like to face difficult times, at least now you know more words to refer to them in a colourful and varied way.

I hope you have enjoyed this episode. Please feel free to share it with your friends, family or colleagues, and if you have any other expressions you would like to add, then don’t hesitate to contact me or leave me a comment.

If you are looking to improve your knowledge of English at work, then you should enrol in my online course on business idioms. This professionally recorded course is ideal for expanding your knowledge of English idioms in a business context.

Click here to enrol.

Thanks again for listening, see you all next week.

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Andrew


Andrew is the CEO and founder of the Art of Business English. Besides teaching and coaching native Spanish speakers in Business English, he is also passionate about mountain biking, sailing and healthy living. When He is not working, Andrew loves to spend time with his family and friends.

Andrew Ambrosius

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