Wie Sie mit den 7 schlimmsten Situationen am Telefon am Besten umgehen

The seven worst telephone situations and how to handle them

Wovor fürchten Sie sich am meisten, wenn Sie internationale Telefongespräche führen? Secretary Today hat für Sie aus Ihren E-Mails und Anrufen eine Liste der sieben häufigsten Fragen zusammengestellt.

What do you find most  daunting when you have to make international phone calls? Are you frightened you won’t understand something, or that you’ll say something wrong?

Secretary Today has analysed all your emails and questions on the telephone hotline – and come up with some answers to help you get it right on the phone.


1 I’m never sure if I have understood figures properly. How can I check?

Obviously, getting figures right on the phone is essential in every business situation. Don’t be afraid to ask. It is better to ask three times before you get something right than to get something wrong once.


This is what you can say:

  • Would you mind repeating that figure for me?
  • Can I read that back to you to see if I got it right?
  •  Did you say fourteen (one –four) or forty (four – zero)?
  • Can you tell me the house number again?
  • Was that number one zero zero two six or one hundred and six?


2 Sometimes people talk too fast. I just can’t understand them.

Don’t be afraid to slow people down if they are speaking too quickly.


This is what you can say:

  • Could you possibly speak more slowly?
  • I’m sorry to interrupt but I can’t quite follow you. Could you say that again?
  • Sorry, which article are you talking about?
  • Can I read that back to you to see if I got it right?


3 Some callers are so impolite. They want to talk to my boss but won’t say who they are or why they want to talk to him. But they insist it’s important. How can I react?

Whatever you do, don’t be impolite back. That will get you nowhere. The best reaction is to stay cool but firm – and to say the right thing.


This is what you can say:

  • If you could just give me your name and let me know what you’re calling about, I’ll see if he’s available.
  • She’s tied up at the moment. Would you like to leave a message?
  • I’m sorry, but Ms Schulz insists I don’t put any calls through if I don’t know who’s calling?
  • I’m sorry I can’t put you through right now, but if you’d like to leave your name and a message, I’ll tell John you called.


4 I’m never sure how much small talk is necessary on the phone?

Small talk is important with people you know personally, which includes people who you talk with a lot on the phone. If someone makes small talk to you and asks you how you are, what you did at Christmas or where you’re going on
holiday, don’t forget to ask them some similar questions. But don’t make your questions or answers too long.

Here are three typical conversations at the start of a phone call

  • Hello Renate, how are you?
  • I’m fine thanks, and you?


  • Hello Margot, this is Jean. How are you?
  • I’m fine thanks. How are you? Did you have a good Christmas?
  • Yes it was lovely – very peaceful. What about you?
  • Oh, it was a bit hectic. We had the house full. But it was lovely, all the same. Well, what can I do for you, Jean?


  • Hello Agnes, this is Nicola. How are you on this wonderfulwinter morning?
  • Oh, hi Nicola. I’m fine thanks. Hard at work as usual, but fine. What about yourself?
  • I’m fine, but I’ll be glad when it’s weekend.
  • Have you got anything planned?
  • Not really, I’m just going to relax with a good book.
  • Sounds like a good idea. Anyway, what can I do for you, Nicola?


5 How can I interrupt someone politely when they are telling me something I don’t need to know?

This kind of situation happens most when you are in the customer services sector. A customer calls and starts giving you details about a broken camera, an accident, a complaint or whatever.

If someone phones and starts giving you information you don’t need, interrupt them as soon as possible. This saves them having to repeat all the information to the person responsible.


  • Before you go any further, I’ll put you through to someone who can deal with your problem?
  • May I just stop you there? You need to talk to someone in complaints. I’ll put you through.


6 Sometimes I need more information from people. How can I ask without sounding impolite?

If you need to ask for more information, make it clear what exactly it is that you need and – if possible – why you need it.

  •  I’m going to need a bit more information, if you don’t mind. Then I’ll be able to process your request.
  • Could you explain that in a little more detail? I’ll be able to find out who to put you through to then.
  • If I may just ask you one more question …

7 Many people use cell phones and the connection is bad. What do I say when I can’t understand them?

Callers on mobile phones are used to having communication problems, so there’s no need to worry about telling them. Always try to describe what the problem is and try to think of a solution.

  • I’m sorry it’s a bad line. Shall I call you back?
  • You’re breaking up. Can I reach you on a landline?
  • I think it would be better if I called you back.



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