Reading – Further recommendations
It could happen that you have someone on the phone who likes to talk a lot and goes off topic. You then might have problems understanding what they are saying, or you just want to get your conversation to the topic you or the person called about. Here are some tips on how to bring the conversation back to the topic of the call.
Create an agenda
Before your call, create an agenda or objective for your call and send it to your colleague. This way they know what you want to discuss and you can always refer back to it if they go off track, with a sentence like
“So, back to the topic on our agenda…”
At the beginning of the call
If your caller is someone you know who normally speaks a lot, tell them at the beginning of the call that you only have a certain amount of time to speak, because you have a meeting or another call. Obviously you shouldn’t say this with a customer or he will think you are not interested in his business!
During the call
If the conversation goes off topic during the call, bring it gently back to the subject. You can say:
“Yes I understand, which is why I wanted us to talk about…”
“That’s an interesting idea, can we deal with it in our next call?”
“I’m pleased you mentioned that. Let’s note it down so we can speak about it later”
Don’t be afraid to be direct by saying:
“ I’m sorry, could we get back to the topic I/you called about”
“Please be brief”
Use your language level
If you are afraid of hurting the person’s feelings, you can always say:
“I’m sorry, perhaps it’s my English, but I don’t understand what this has to do with our topic.”
At the end of the call
Tell the person you only have a few minutes left and you would like to talk about the topic. For example:
I’m afraid I have a meeting in a few minutes, could we decide on/discuss …”
In the next unit, “Develop positive relationships on the phone”, you will learn more phrases to get the conversation back to the topic, especially after making small talk.