Telefonieren: Anrufer ohne Namen

What to do when the caller does not say his name

You answer the phone. The voice on the other end says, “Hello, can talk to Fabian Basdorf (or whatever your boss’s name is), please.“ This may seem unusual, even impolite, in Germany.

But it is not uncommon for a caller from the UK or USA not to say his or her name. The best reaction is “Certainly, can I tell him who’s calling?“ or, if you boss is not there, “I’m sorry he’s not there right now. Would you like to leave you name and I’ll tell him you called?“ If theydo leave their name, don’t be surprised if it’s only a first name.

First names are used far more often than family names, even in ‘serious’ businesses like banks and insurance offices. Receptionists, secretaries and PA’s virtually always refer to themselves by their first names. If you ask for someone’s family name, your request may be met with a puzzled “there’s no need for that. I’m the only June here. If you call back, everyone will know you want to speak to me.“


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