Speaking English Professionally #3 – On the phone

Lecture notes from Georgia Tech’s “Speak English Professionally” course. Here are the Part 1, Part 2.

Telephone Language

Phone calls have potentials to lead you to success (much like everything else). More and more people seem to use their phone as a pocket computer. But it’s still important to learn how to have a decent conversation on the phone. Introduce yourself, state your purpose, make no misunderstandings and close with a friendly manner.

Phone conversation with someone new (someone you don’t know):

  1. Tell your name
  2. Your position or work title – Leave it if the person you’re talking to knows you
  3. Purpose of call

Hello, this is Zolbayar Bayrsaikhan. I work at SKYtel LLC, and I’m calling about my order of 16 unicorns. Could you please confirm the delivery date?

Ways to respond with “YES”:

  • Yes, I’d be happy to
  • Certainly, what would you like to know?
  • Of course. ~ Do you have a minute to…
  • Not at all. ~ Would you mind…

Polite ways to respond with “NO”:

  • I’m sorry, I’m unable to confirm at this time. I’ll get back with you as soon as I can.
  • Unfortunately, I’m not able to at this time. Could I call you back?
  • Sorry, I’m busy right now but will be happy to call you back.

Ways to ask for clarification (Tons of problems could happen during a nice telephone conversation. Don’t panic at times like that. Just ask for a repetition or a clarification):

  • I’m sorry. I missed that. What did you just say?
    • Oh, let me explain.
  • Excuse me. I didn’t catch what you said. Could you say it again, please?
    • I’d be happy to.
  • Sorry. I’m not sure I understand. What does that mean?
    • Certainly, what I mean is…

Ways to close the conversation (You should close the conversation politely with an offer to get in touch again):

  • Thanks so much. I look forward to speaking with you again. Goodbye.
  • It’s been great talking to you. Thank you. Goodbye.
  • I’ve enjoyed this conversation and hope we’ll talk soon. Goodbye.

Understand and Be Understood on the Phone

Common errors:

  • Can VS Can’t – How the a is pronounced is the key
    • Can – a is short
    • Can’t – a is long and stressed
  • Teens VS Tens ~ fourteen and forty
  • $59.99 – fifty-nine ninety-nine

Some takeaways:

  • Always repeat your number by its digits.
  • The tone of voice is the equivalent of the body language on the phone.
  • Phone roleplay is the best way to learn these subtleties.

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