Sie müssen wichtige Daten am Telefon notieren, Ihr Gesprächspartner spricht zu schnell, die Leitung ist schlecht – und das alles auf Englisch! So kommen Sie sicher und souverän aus der Situation heraus.
One of the most daunting situations in business life is when you
answer the phone and someone speaks English to you. You are taken by surprise, you have no eye contact with the person you are talking to, no chance to describe things through gestures. On top of that, the person on the other end of the line has a strong accent and the connection is bad. The key to getting out of a situation like this is confidence. The key to confidence is having strategies at your fingertips – or rather on the tip of your tongue.
Here are some survivalstrategies for that unexpected phone call
If you feel you are completely unprepared for the call, offer to call back. You could say “I’m afraid I can’t talk to you right now, but I could call you back in quarter of an hour.“ This will give you fifteen valuable minutes to check key vocabulary and, in particular, figures. When you do call back, speak slowly. Talking quickly makes you sound nervous.
If someone is talking too fast or too low, say so right away.
“I’m sorry, could you slow down a little, please?“ “I’m afraid I can’t hear you very well. Could I ask you to speak up/speak a little louder, please?“
If you can’t get them to slow down, stop them and check regularly that
you have understood. “If I could just repeat that – you said 2,000 dollars?“
Never pretend you have understood something if you are not sure. To check figures, say “Was that fourteen – one four – , or forty – four zero?“
To check spelling, say “Was that a as in Alpha and r as in Romeo?“
To make absolutely sure, ask for email confirmation “Could I ask you to confirm that by email, please?“
If the connection is bad, say so. “I’m sorry it’s a bad line. Couldyou repeat that, please?“
You don’t understand the subject matter. “I’m afraid I can’t help you. I’ll put you through to someone who can.“
If you’re finding the conversation very difficult, you could use a last resort and say a couple of sentences in your own language. This acts as an emergency brake, reminding people how difficult it is to understand a foreign language on the phone.