Your top eight telephone questions

Sie haben im Laufe der letzten 12 Monate viele Fragen zum Englischen am Telefon gestellt, in der Telefonsprechstunde und in Schulungen. Secretary Today hat für Sie die interessantesten zusammengefasst. Hier sind sie und, natürlich, die Antworten.

You have asked many questions about using English on the phone over the past twelve months – some on the telephone helpline, some at training seminars. Here are the ones you asked most often and, of course, the answers!

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1. People often phone to sell my boss something, like insurance or lottery tickets. They won't say their name or exactly what it is they want. What can I say to stop them calling?

Telephone marketing is very effective, but it can be very annoying when it is done unprofessionally. If you know that it is something your boss is not interested in, try these tactics.

If you'd like to give me your name, the name of your company and tell me what you're calling about, I'll see if she's interested and get her to call back.

2. How can I get American and British callers to tell me their name when they call for my boss? If I insist they get very impolite.

This may seem impolite to you, but it is common practice in the USA and UK. So stay polite. Ask for the name indirectly. Don't say "Please give me your name." Instead, say

If you'd like to tell me your name, I'll put you through.

3. What do I say when my boss has just left the office for lunch, or when he has a private appointment?

Don't say where your boss is, but say when he or she will be back and offer to call back or take a message.

He's not there right now. He'll be back in about an hour. Shall I get him to call you?

4. What can I say when my boss has already left the office and gone home for the evening?

Tell the caller the truth, and say when you are expecting your boss to arrive the next day. Offer to call back or take a message.

She's left the office for the day. She's usually in shortly before nine. Shall I ask her to call you back or can I take a message?

5. When my boss goes on holiday or when she is on a business trip, a colleague does her work for her. What do I say when people call for her?

You can either say that somebody is standing in for your boss, or you can offer to put the call through to their deputy.

She's on holiday until the end of the week. Let me put you through to Oliver Schulz who is standing in for her.

6. How do I say "Sie sind in einem Funkloch"?

You're breaking up.

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7. How do I say "Kann ich Sie auf einem Festnetz anrufen?"

Can I reach you on a landline?

8. Can you tell me some alternatives for "Goodbye and thank you" at the end of a call?

Depending on how well you know the person, you use formal, less formal or familiar phrases.

Formal phrases are:Goodbye / It was a pleasure to talk to you.
Less formal phrases are:Bye-bye / It was nice talking to you.
More familiar phrases are:Cheerio / Bye / Bye for now /See you later.
A very familiar phrase used often in the UK is:Cheers.