Phone politeness

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2011, 12:00am


If we are chatting to our friends on the telephone then our tone is likely to be very relaxed. We will still have to be careful what we say so that we don't accidentally offend people.

Yet if we are making a business call it is very important to ensure we are well mannered and follow phone etiquette. If you are polite on the phone, in personal and business conversations, people will treat you with more respect. Saying, 'Good morning. This is Ben speaking', is much better than, 'Yes! What do you want?', no matter who we are talking to.

Formal calls

a) Here are some useful, polite phrases that will help you when you are making a formal phone call. Practise them in a dialogue with a friend.

1 Good morning. May I help you?

2 Could I speak to Mr Chan, please?

3 I'd like to speak to someone in the advertising department, please.

4 I'm calling on behalf of my manager, Miss Jane Wong.

5 I'd like to discuss a problem with someone in the internet banking department.

6 I'm calling for more information about your advertisement in yesterday's SCMP.

7 I'm sorry. Could you please repeat what you just said?

8 I didn't quite catch your name.

9 Who am I speaking to, please?

10 Could you help me, please? I'm calling about a purchase I made last week.

Useful phrases

b) These phrases are useful when you are answering the phone in a business situation. Again, practise them in a dialogue with a friend.

1 I'm afraid Mr Smith is not available.

2 I'll put you through to Mr Smith's office.

3 Hold on, please.

4 I'm sorry to keep you waiting.

5 I'm afraid you've got the wrong number.

6 Is there anything I can do to help you?

7 Could you call back tomorrow morning?

8 May I call you back later?

9 Could you give me your name and number, please?

Deal with this

Can you politely deal with these situations?

1 Ask to speak to someone in reception.

2 Tell the caller you are putting her on hold and tell her why.

3 Ask the person you are speaking with to repeat what he has just said.

4 Phone about an advert you have seen in the paper and ask for further details.

5 Tell the caller you can't deal with the call at the moment and give the reason.

6 Tell the caller you will put him through to the manager.

7 Ask the caller if you may call her back tomorrow morning.

8 Ask the person answering your call who you are speaking to.

9 Pick up the phone and say politely who you are.

10 Tell the caller that she has got the wrong number.

Smart answers

Give a polite response to these comments or queries.

1 Could I speak to Mr Wu, please?

2 Why can't she take my call?

3 How may I help you?

4 I'd like to speak to your sales manager, please.

5 Do you know when he will be available?

6 I called you last week and you didn't get back to me.

7 When would it be convenient for me to call you back?

8 I am sorry. What did you just say?