Reading – Tips to create better understanding
Now that you’ve learnt the key language to be able to understand your telephone partner better, here are some tips to increase the chances of understanding your business partner on the phone.
Choose a quiet place
Try to find a quiet area to have your telephone conversation in English. In an office, especially if you share it with many colleagues, that is often difficult to find. Nevertheless, you could look for an empty meeting room or inform your colleagues that you are about to make a telephone call in English and you are worried about understanding your English partner. I am sure they will understand and be a little quieter. If you have a private office, close the door.
Choose the right time
If somebody calls you and you wish to prepare your answer, ask them if you can call back in ten minutes. This is a good tip if you want to look up information or if you want to check how to say certain things in English.
Be clear and specific
Say the reason of your telephone call. After the greeting and small talk, immediately tell the reason for the call. This provides focus and direction.
Be calm and listen
When we are stressed, we often speak too fast. Use the tip from the previous section, and take a few breaths, and slow down your heartbeat and your speech. Don’t talk too much or interrupt your telephone partner.
Sometimes we will need to interrupt our partner on the phone, either to share an important message, ask a question or clarify something. The key is to interrupt politely. Use the following phrases:
I hate to interrupt but I wanted to let you know …
I’m so sorry to interrupt but…
I don’t mean to be rude but may I interrupt quickly?
Try not to do anything else while you are on the phone. Set your mobile phone on silent, or put them away so that you don’t get distracted by messages or email notifications. Turn your computer screen off, unless you need it for your phone call of course.
Try not to use the loudspeaker on your phone when possible. Ideally, speak directly into the telephone receiver or use a high-quality headset. Try not to put the receiver between your ear and shoulder either. This usually gives a muffled sound and strains your neck.
Choose your words and tone carefully
When you’re speaking over the phone instead of in person, words themselves and the tone of your voice carry a greater impact because the listener cannot see you to provide meaning. That’s why it’s especially important to prepare and practise your speaking points ahead of time.
What to do when you don’t understand
The biggest fear that many people have when speaking a foreign language on the phone is that they won’t be able to understand their telephone partner. Click here to review, if needed, the essential language to use to ask for clarification.
In conclusion, give your callers the full attention you would if you were face-to-face with them and you will have a much better chance of understanding them.
You will now do a little quiz to check if you have understood.