#BusEng: Telephone language

Hi, fellas! Did you receive a phone call from overseas today?

Many people find it difficult to make phone calls in a foreign language. I do. Do you? During a phone call, you can’t see the person you are talking to, or the voice might be unclear. And you have to think fast enough to choose the right words to say, especially when it is a business phone call.

Today, I’m going to give you some words and phrases that you can use when you make a phone call.

  • If you want to improve your telephone skills, try to learn some of the multi-word verbs that are commonly used. You can use ‘hold on’ or ‘hang on’ if you want the speaker to wait. Example: “Please hang on a second…”
  • If you are talking to a secretary, he/she may say “I’m going to ‘put you through’ to my boss.” It means to connect your call to another telephone. He/she then may say “I can’t get you through him.” It means the person you want to talk to is not available.
  • If it happens, you can ask the secretary to tell the boss to ‘call you back’, or return your phone call.
  • Formality is also important when you talk to a person on the telephone. First of all, you have to know the title of the person you want to talk to. If you are too formal, people might find not comfortable to talk to you, but if you are too informal, people might think you are impolite.
  • In business, you should use ‘could’, ‘can’, ‘may’, or ‘would’ when you make a request. Example: “Could I speak to Robert Downey, please?” or “Would tomorrow be okay?”
  • Don’t forget to use ‘please’ and ‘thank you (very much)’ whenever you ask for help or information.
  • Some informal English such as ‘okay’ and ‘bye’ are okay to end the conversation. Ex: “Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow. Bye!”
  • Now, what if you don’t understand or can’t hear what the speaker is saying to you? Actually, it’s better to ask for clarification rather than to pretend you understand something that you didn’t. You can use phrases like ‘I’m sorry, could you repeat that, please?’ or ‘Could you speak a little slowly, please?’
  • And if you still can’t understand, you could say “I’m sorry, the line is very bad today. Could you text me.” Or maybe you can try to call the speaker back later.

That’s a wrap for today, fellas! Don’t forget to practice words, phrases, and vocabulary before you make the call.

Compiled by @Patipatigulipat at @EnglishTips4U on April 26, 2013

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