Telephoning in English

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Social talk on the phone
If you know the person, or have spoken before, it's normal to chat for a few seconds before saying why you are calling.
You: "Hello, this is (Tom McIvor) speaking." or "Hello, this is (Tom McIvor)."
You might also want to add your company name: "This is (Tom McIvor) from (McIvor Worldwide)."
The other person: "Hello, how are you?"
You: "Fine, thanks. And you?"
The other person: "Very well, thanks."
or "Not bad."
or "Can't complain."
or "A bit busy" etc.
You: "Oh good."
or "Oh right."
or "Glad to hear that."
If someone asks you how you are, respond (positively!) and return the question. This social talk can be extended. You could ask about a project you know the person is working on, or a mutual friend, or the person's family.
You: "Hello, this is (Tom McIvor). How are you?"
Other person: "Fine, and yourself?"
You: "Fine, thanks. How's the restructuring going?"
Other person: "Well, we're pretty busy, as you can imagine."
You: "Yes, I can! Anyway, I'm calling about…"
To introduce the subject of your call, you can use words such as 'anyway', or 'well', or 'right'.
Remember, if you haven't spoken to the person before, or don't know them, then social talk is inappropriate - get straight to the reason for your call.
Calling someone you don't know
Perhaps a colleague has asked you to call someone. You don't know the person, so you should introduce yourself and mention your colleague's name.
You: "Hello, this is (Sarah Brown) calling, from (McIvor Worldwide)."
Other person: "Hello, what can I do for you?"
or "Hello, how can I help you?"
You: "I'm calling on behalf of (Tom McIvor)…"
or "(Tom McIvor) suggested that I call you."
or "(Tom McIvor) asked me to call you."
* try to speak clearly and don't be afraid to speak more slowly than normal.
* think about what you want to say before calling.
* don't be afraid to ask your caller to repeat themselves if you don't understand. You can say, "I'm sorry, could you repeat that please?" or "Sorry, I didn't quite catch that."
What to say when there's a problem
When you can't hear someone
"I'm sorry, could you speak up, please?"
"I'm sorry, I can't hear you very well."
"I'm sorry, the line's bad - could you repeat what you just said?"
When you don't understand what someone says
"I'm sorry, I didn't get that. Could you say it again, please?"
"I'm afraid I don't follow you. Could you repeat it, please?"
"I'm sorry, I'm not sure I understand. Would you mind explaining it again, please?"
When you want to correct what the other person has said
"Actually, it's 16, not 60." (Stress the two words where there is confusion - in this example the 16 and the 60.)
"I'm sorry, but I think there's been a misunderstanding. The payment's due next week, not next month."
"I'm sorry, but that's not quite right.." (When you refer back to what someone has just said. You then go on to say what IS right.)
Checking that you understand something
"So if I understand you correctly…"
"When you say… do you mean…?"
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