Telephone Conversation in Office - Best Business Phrases and Examples

business conversation Nov 05, 2021

Today’s blog article is all about telephone conversations. Speaking to someone on the telephone is a whole other animal compared to speaking to someone face to face. 


There are fewer non-verbal cues we can pick up on to determine the mood and reactions of the receiver, meaning it’s harder to judge how the receiver is feeling. 


Be sure to write all of today’s new words and phrases down, and most importantly, make sure you try practicing them with a friend, colleague or your teacher if you want to retain and remember the new words.


Let’s go!


Why You Should Learn to Talk Business English on The Phone 

Talking on the phone could be a vital part of your job, or sometimes you may only have to make or answer phone calls in English. You might need to speak on the phone in English every day or even as part of an examination or job interview. Sometimes your job may even depend on a phone call!


Skyping (or video calling) in English involves the same skills as traditional telephoning, but with a webcam so will be seen by the other person. Here, body language plays an even more integral role in how you come across to the receiver. 

Generally speaking, you will find that improving your telephone skills will also help with your speaking skills. Furthermore, learning how to speak professionally and clearly on the phone will help you become much more confident and it can even improve your self-esteem when speaking English and your native language. Win-win, huh?


Examples of Business English Phone Conversation 

Here is an extract of a telephone conversation in English between a buyer and supplier. Pay particular attention to the polite and diplomatic language that is used (in yellow), especially by the secretary.

Mrs. Arnolds (sales representative Valentinos): ring ring...ring ring...ring ring...

Mr. Samways (Secretary): Hello, Valentinos, this is Patrick speaking. How may I help you?

Mrs. Arnolds: Yes, this is Mrs. Janet Arnolds calling. Could I speak to Mr. Daniels, please?

Mr. Samways: I'm afraid Mr. Daniels is out of the office at the moment. Would you like me to take a message?

Mrs. Arnolds: Uhm...actually, this call is rather urgent. We spoke yesterday about a delivery problem that Mr. Daniels mentioned. Did he leave any information with you?

Mr. Samways: As a matter of fact, he did. He said that a representative from your company might be calling. He also asked me to ask you a few questions...

Mrs. Arnolds: Great, I'd love to see this problem resolved as quickly as possible.

Mr. Samways: Well, we still haven't received the shipment of chocolates that was supposed to arrive last Monday.

Mrs. Arnolds: Ah, yes, I'm so sorry about that. In the meantime, I've spoken with our delivery department and they assured me that the chocolates will be delivered by tomorrow afternoon.

Mr. Samways: Excellent, I'm sure Mr. Daniels will be pleased to hear that.


Best Phrases to Use While You Have Business Conversation on The Phone


Taking a phone call

When you answer the phone at work, you’ll want to always greet the caller professionally. Here are two ways you can do that:


  • Hello/Good morning/Good afternoon. [Company name], [your name] speaking, how may I help you?


For example, if your name is Andre  and you work at a company called I.M.C, you might say:


  • Good morning! I.M.C, Andre speaking. How may I help you?


This quickly tells the caller who you are, and then lets them explain why they’re calling.


[Company name], [your name] speaking.


This second one is a shorter greeting: I.M.C, Andre speaking.


You can also use “This is [your name]” as another way to say “[Your name] speaking.”


Asking for somebody

It’s important to know exactly who you want to talk to and you can use one of the options below.


  • May I speak to [person’s name]?


This first phrase is a question, and slightly more polite than the next option. Here’s an example:


  • May I (please) speak to Mr. Sanders?


  • I’d like to speak to [person’s name], please.


For example, “I’d like to speak to Mr. Sanders, please.” You may use this one when you’re quite sure the person is available to talk to you.


Giving reasons for calling

At the start of a phone conversation it’s a good idea to state why you are calling. This helps both speakers talk about what’s relevant.


    • I’m calling to ask about/discuss/clarify…


  • I’m calling to ask about your current printing promotion.


    • I just wanted to ask…


  • I just wanted to ask if you need any more articles for next month’s magazine.


    • Could you tell me…?


  • Could you tell me the address of Friday’s networking event?



Small talk

Whenever you want to be friendly and make a good first impression with someone, you can make small talk. You can ask them about their day, or you may be more specific if you remember details from your past conversations.


  • Hi, [first name], how are you?

This one is more general and you can use it when you don’t remember anything specific to ask about.


  • How are you getting on with…?

This second phrase is more specific and should be used if you remember certain details. This will make the other person feel good about talking to you and may even improve your relationship. 

For example, if you remember that a company will move to a new office building, you might ask:


  • How are you getting on with the preparations for the new merger?



Taking messages

If you answer a phone call and the caller wants to speak to someone who is unavailable, you should take a message. You can do that in any of the following ways:


  • I’m sorry, she/he’s not here today. Can I take a message?

  • I’m afraid he/she’s not available at the moment. Can I take a message?

This response doesn’t tell the caller why “he/she” is unavailable. However if you know why, and it’s okay to share that information, you might say something like this:


  • I’m afraid he’s in a meeting until 2 p.m. Can I take a message?

  • Could I ask who’s calling, please?


You can use this phrase with the modal verb ‘could’ to politely find out who is calling.

  • I’ll give him/her your message as soon as he/she gets back.

  • I’ll pass on your message to him as soon as he/she gets back.

After you’ve written down the caller’s message, you can say this phrase.


What is We Speak Business Program 

We Speak Business is an English course with live speaking lessons for English learners who want speaking practice with native speakers, professional teachers, and students from around the world


You have live speaking lessons where you can join and start speaking business English every day. There's a lesson every day and also, you can review all record lessons. There is a lot of conversation practice for each level of English (A2, B1-B2, C1). There is a calendar of scheduled lessons so you can see when lessons are and at what time you can join and start speaking.


In the We Speak Business program, you have 24/7 support and also you have student chat where you can speak with other students from all around the world. Before you join our program and start speaking business English, we strongly recommend you sign up for our free seminar with Andrew Smith, where you can learn:


  • What goals you need to have to get better results 
  • How to master business English quickly
  • What are the strategies that will help you advance to a higher level
  • How you can speak business English more fluently and confidently
  • Free resources to help you learn business English
  • An exclusive resource to improve your speech


Best Tips for Improving Your Business English Phone Phrases 


Embrace mistakes - don’t fear them!

It’s completely normal to make mistakes when using new vocabulary for the first time. Don’t let making mistakes ruin your confidence and motivation. It’s completely normal to make many mistakes when speaking on the phone, so don’t give up!


Hopefully the people you talk to will be both patient and understanding. Nevertheless some people who have never learned a second language don’t understand how difficult it can be. Don’t let them discourage you! Remind yourself: When you make mistakes, you are making progress and learning. 


Use three phrases in your phone conversations everyday

Once you read and learn the phrases we’ve looked at today, choose three every day to use in your phone conversations or whenever appropriate. There’s a difference between the people who use the new words they learn and those who don’t - the ones who use it are much more likely to retain it! If you fall into the latter camp, then the words will be part of your passive vocabulary, which means you will probably recognize them when you hear them, but you won’t be able to use them yourself on the spot.


If you can’t find a way to include them in your real telephone conversations, try writing down imaginary phone conversations so you can use the new phrases or practice using them with a Business English teacher. 


Practice new grammar concepts in phone calls

You can use the previous learning strategy with grammar as well, not just with new vocabulary. Every time you see a new grammar structure, write it down, make your own examples with it and then use it at work.


Here are some examples.


Modal verbs

  • Could I ask who’s calling, please?
  • How may I help you?

Expressions followed by verbs ending in “-ing”

  • Do you mind waiting a few minutes?
  • Thanks for calling.


Expressions followed by infinitives

  • I’m calling to clarify…
  • I’d like to leave him a message.
  • When is a good time to call?


Role-play with a friend, colleague or teacher

It can also be a great help to read out the phrases and practice making phone calls with a friend or colleague first. You will feel less nervous if you practice with somebody you know. If you don’t have someone to practice with, you can practice on your own.


Reading aloud in English will help you improve your confidence in speaking and your pronunciation. If you record yourself as you practice, you can even become aware of your own mistakes.


If you are looking to improve your speaking skills at work, then we have an exclusive free seminar where I teach you how to speak better business in 30 days. Sign up by clicking the button below!