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Smalltalk auf Englisch - Die erste Minute zählt

Schlagwörter: Smalltalk Englisch, Kennenlernen, Englisch, English, OWAD Business English Trainer

Many of us hate making a telephone call in a second language. We feel stressed: worried that words might fail us and that we will make fools of ourselves. The first minute of the call is so important. If you get the first few sentences correct, it boosts your confidence and creates a good impression in the mind of the person you are speaking with.
Let’s look at the key language you need to start the call off right.

Talking to a switchboard operator
Switchboard operators are used to handling many calls from all sorts of people. What they want from you is quick, clear information that helps them handle your call as efficiently as possible.

Here’s an example of the language you could use:
Operator: Smith and Jones Ltd., Good morning.
You: Good morning. I’m calling from Germany. I’d like to speak to Mr Graham, please.

Using ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good afternoon’ is a very common form of greeting on the phone. If you are talking to someone in a time zone several hours different to yours it can sound odd — but on the other hand, it can point out that you are phoning from another part of the world. Don’t forget to mention where you are calling from. Making it clear that this is an international call often gets you preferential treatment.
You don’t normally have to give your name up front. Leave it up to the switchboard operator to ask for it. He or she might ask, ‘Who shall I say is calling?’ or ‘What name shall I say?’ or ‘May I have your name, please?’ You could then reply, ‘This is Henrik Strauss from PGC in Dusseldorf.’
When giving your name, use your first and last name and say, ‘This is…’ rather than ‘I am...’ or ‘My name is…’ ‘This is Henrik Strauss’ sounds stronger and more confident than the alternatives.
If you don’t know the name of the person you would like to speak to but only his or her title or position, you can say, ‘I’d like to speak with your finance manager, please’ or ‘I’d like to speak with someone in charge of accounts’.

Talking to the person you want
After you get through to the person you want to speak to, the first part of the conversation might go as follows:

Mr Graham: Fred Graham, Purchasing.
You: Good morning, Mr Graham. This is Henrik Strauss calling from PGC in Dusseldorf.

Use your business partner’s name. This is good manners. But it also allows you to check whether you are saying it correctly. Then give your name very clearly. We often say our names very quickly, so a short pause between your first and last name helps people to remember them.
Say your company name clearly too.

Giving the reason for the call
Now you need to state clearly the reason for the call. It’s like writing the heading on an email or letter. It allows your telephone partner to focus on the issue and to understand why you are taking up his or her time.

You might say:

I’m calling to see if you might have time to meet me when I’m next in London.


I’m calling in reply to your email. or I’m returning your call from yesterday.


I’m calling on behalf of Doris Burchart, our CEO.

Get to the point quickly. The person on the other end of the phone wants to know what’s going on. And you don’t want to sound like those cold callers who try to build up a friendly relationship before trying to sell you something.

Now you can go into the details of the call knowing that you have made a confident first impression by greeting your partner appropriately, by stating clearly who you are and whom you represent, and by giving a clear reason why you are calling.

Transferring calls
We all have to act as a switchboard operator at work. We need to be able to transfer calls, to take messages for others, and to explain why the person being called is not available.

Let’s look at the language you need to handle these different situations in a professional way in English.

Announcing the transfer
There are several ways to say that you are transferring a call to a colleague. The correct phrase is ‘I’ll transfer you to Mr Blom’s extension.’ The word ‘transfer’ here means to make an internal connection.
You could also use ‘I’ll connect you to…’ or ‘I’ll put you through to…’ These are what a switchboard operator will say when you call into a company from the outside. But you can use these phrases for internal call transfers too.

Asking someone to wait
Don’t say ‘Wait’ or ‘Hang on’. The first is an impolite order and the second is very informal, idiomatic English that’s not really suitable for business situations.

Instead, use one of the following phrases:

Just a moment, please.

One moment, please.

Hold the line, please.

Stay on the line, please.

Any of these sound much more professional.

What happens if the person the caller wants to speak to is not in or is already on the phone?

If the person is not in, say, ‘I’m afraid there’s no answer.’ Unless the person has left for the day or is for some reason completely unreachable, it’s not a good idea to mention whether the person is actually in the office or not — he or she may not want callers to know.

If the person is on the phone, say either ‘I’m afraid the line is busy’ or ‘His line is engaged’.

Then offer a choice of action:

Would you like to hold, or would you like to call back later?

You can also offer to help this way:

Would you like to hold, or should I put you through to his voicemail?

Offering a choice is more customerfriendly and sounds polite.

If the person being called is completely unavailable, you might want to tell the caller why getting in touch might take some time.
The most common reasons are:

She’s travelling on business.

He’s left for the day.

She’s not in the office just now.

He’s on sick leave.

She’s on holiday until the end of the month.

Here’s a general expression you can use to cover every situation:

I’m afraid he’s not available at the moment.

You could also go on to say when your colleague will be available. For example:

She’s expected back at 3 o’clock.

We expect him back on the 28th of June.

Use the word ‘expect’ when you cannot be 100% sure of what will happen in the future. This way you can’t be blamed if your colleague does not turn up on time!

Offering help
If the person being called is unavailable, there are several ways of offering help:

May I help you?
You might know something about the work issue involved.

Would you like to speak to someone else?
The caller might know of another colleague who can help.

Shall I take a message?
You can pass on some information.

Can I ask her to call you back?
Get your colleague to call when she is back in the office.

Where can she reach you?
Get the caller’s number.

Shall I page him for you?
If you have a paging system in your organization.

You can reach her on her mobile.
( AE: cell phone )
If this is agreed practice.

I’ll connect you with her voicemail.
So that the caller can leave a message.

With a few phrases taken from the switchboard, you can deal with calls for absent colleagues in an effective and efficient way.

Schlagwörter: Smalltalk Englisch, Kennenlernen, Englisch, English, OWAD Business English Trainer

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