As Italians are used to communicating effectively face to face – but talking on the phone is really different world. Without our gestures and our expressions it might be difficult to make the point while remaining polite and aligned to the context.
Lucky you! There’s Do you speak Business!
Today we’re exploring a bit the telephoning world.
First of all: as in Italian, it’s always a good habit to use the Conditional tense + please, for example:
Could I speak to Mr. Smith, please?
Could you tell him to call me back, please?
or, if you want to be extra polite: do you mind putting me through to him, please?
As a general rule, use the family name if that’s the first time you talk to a person. You might use the first name the next time you talk to him/her – but keep in mind that the context is essential to choose the right approach.
Eventually, how do you give bad news?
In Italian we could use “purtroppo“, but in English you’d rather use expressions like “I’m afraid“, “I’m sorry, but ... ” or even “actually“: they make the sentence less direct therefore more polite.
Actually is a helpful alternative to “no”, for example:
Does he have your phone number? / Actually, I don’t think he does.
That’s all for today – thanks for reading and come back for more Business English tips!
Source: D.G. Smith, English for Telephoning, Oxford University press, 2007