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Are you constantly freaking out over making phone calls because you think you won’t be able to say things in English? Are you always putting off making appointments over phone because you dread the moment when you have to explain something and the person on the other side won’t understand what you’re saying? Or maybe you just fear that you’ll get stuck for words while trying to explain the reason of your phone call?
Wherever your fear originates, it’s unfounded! I think you’d be in for a nice surprise to find out that you’re actually much better off holding a phone to your ear in terms of maintaining English fluency, so keep reading this blog post to find out why I’m making such a claim!
No direct contact – no trouble!
Sometimes having a face-to-face conversation with another English speaker can be a little bit intimidating. I’m not joking, it’s true! It doesn’t necessarily mean that the person you’re chatting with means it – it can happen with the best intentions in mind.
Have you ever been interrupted by the other person just because you’re making a pause to verbalize your thoughts? Your conversation partner thinks he’s helping you out by jumping in between and taking initiative. In reality the chances are he’s making wrong assumptions about your English. While your pause might be nothing more than just natural way of putting an abstract concept into words, your chat partner may take it for inability to speak out your mind!
Well, contrary to what you might believe, you’re more likely to avoid such issues when having phone conversations! Why? Simply because the other person doesn’t see you and when you speak on the phone, you’re in charge of the situation ❗
Have you ever had a fight with your girlfriend or boyfriend over the phone? I’m sure most of us have, and here’s what you can learn from it – it’s more likely that she or he will listen to what you have to say when you’re on the phone! Don’t think it’s true? Maybe it’s not always the case, but judging after my own experience, I can tell you that when I’m having a face-to-face argument, it’s much easier to start interrupting each other and then you end up both shouting at the same time!
I think the same happens with every type of conversation and you can deal with English fluency issues when speaking on the phone much better than communicating with people face-to-face.
Well, I’m not saying you have to avoid real-time conversations; you have to communicate as much as possible!
The point I’m trying to make here is that your fear of making phone calls in English is completely irrational because you’re so much better off on the phone!
Getting stuck? Put on hold!
This one will probably sound ridiculous at first, but don’t dismiss it yet! Just think about how you’d cope with a situation when you suddenly find yourself stuck for words in a middle of real-time English conversation. If you’re quick-witted you can always paraphrase without getting tongue-tied. However, if you’re having the typical English fluency issue, you may find it very difficult at times, right?
I mean – you can’t simply tell your supervisor or whoever else you happen to be chatting with to hold on for 10 seconds while you can find the right words to express yourself.
If you’re on the phone, however, it suddenly becomes completely acceptable! You can always find an excuse (“Hold on a sec, I’ll just get a pen!”) or even not give any reason at all (“Can you please hold on for a minute?”) if you feel that you need a few seconds to figure out what to answer or what to ask.
As I said – it will hardly sound like a method of conducting successful English phone conversations at first. Most people, however, get totally convinced when I tell them to recall phone conversations they’ve had with some service providers. Have they ever been put on hold after they’ve asked a specific question? You see – it’s essentially the same thing! Only instead of dealing with hesitation when speaking English the call centre operator is buying time to find a satisfactory answer to your question.
Different reasons, same method – and I don’t see why you can’t resort to it on occasions when you get overwhelmed by the possible answers and your head seems to be stuffed with English words and sentences!
Common phrases – the key element!
You might be struggling with English fluency a bit when on the phone; however, if you start the conversation with a quick and fluent phrase, your chances of being perceived as a fluent English speaker are much bigger.
It’s the first impression that counts on most occasions and if you pick up the phone followed by “[Company name] [Your name] speaking, how can I help you?” the customer is most likely not going to make assumptions about your English.
Other most commonly used phrases on the phone depending on the sector you work in are:
“Can I have you account number or your landline phone number please?”
“Is there anything else I can help you with?”
“Would you like me to put you through to the … department?”
“Hi, my name’s …. and I’d like to make an appointment with …”
“Hi, I’m calling in relation to… can I speak to someone about it please?”
… and of course, it barely scratches the surface!
The bottom line is the following – you can learn the most commonly used phrases in your industry by heart, and it’s going to make a huge difference in your ability to conduct successful phone conversations in English ❗
Yes, yes, I’m very well aware of the fact that if you work in a certain industry, you’d have memorized standard phrase you constantly use on the phone anyway.
There are, however, expressions that you don’t think of memorizing and you might be using different versions of the same phrase every time you’re on the phone. While it’s generally a good thing that you’re able to improvise, this blog post is dedicated to those who fear making phone calls or receiving them. Therefore the more you’ll be able to produce automatic, natural speech, the better you’ll be able to overcome English fluency issues while speaking with someone on the phone!
P.S. Are you ready to get on the fast track to spoken English fluency? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!