In addition to small talk, which will be covered in a separate post, telephone conversations are a source of stress for many English language learners. Having a phone conversation is no different than having an in-person conversation, with the exception of starting and ending. Here, I will give you some things you can say to start and end your phone conversations.

Let’s start with asking for someone. You can use these when asking for a colleague who works for another company or if contacting someone you do not know.

Good morning (afternoon/evening), may I please speak to Mr. Johnson?

Hello. Is Jim Brown available?

Many executives have layers of people you have to bypass before you get to the person you called. Each time, you may be asked to repeat your name and company name. Be sure to give your full name:

My name is Mohammed Khan with Razor Technologies.

My name is Keisha Knight. I’m the marketing director for Windsor Windows in Chicago, Illinois.

The language is relaxed if the person is someone you’ve been doing business with for some time or when contacting a friend.

 Hi. Is Paul there? This is Ted from Apple.

What happens if the person is not there or unavailable? In most cases, the person taking the call will ask if you’d like to leave a message or a voicemail. If they don’t ask, then voice your preference.

May I leave her a message?

Do you expect him to return to the office today?

What time will he return today?

When will she be back in the office?

What time do you expect her to return from lunch?

What time is his meeting scheduled to end?

I will try her again later (this afternoon/tomorrow/next week, etc.).

There’s no message. Thank you.

Let’s talk about answering the phone. Some companies have requirements of how this should be done. If not, then you will need to develop your own style. When the phone rang in my office, I would say, “This is Yvette. How can I help you?” or “Good morning. This is Yvette.” For those of you who answer your company’s main phone, you can say, “Thank you for calling World Express. This is Pam. How may I direct your call?” or “Good morning, Pizza Pals Company. How may I help you?” If you want to know the name of the caller:

May I have your name and company, please?

Who’s calling please?

What is your name, please?

When transferring a call, tell the caller, “Just one moment, please.” If the person is not there or is not available:

Mr. Tjonok is not available.

Mr. Hodge is away from his desk.

Ms. Fox will be out of the office for the next week.

Would you like to leave a message (voicemail)?

Would you like to call back later?

I will let him know you called.

Once your conversation has finished, you can end the call with the following:

Thank you for your time. Have a nice day.

That’s all I needed. Thank you. Goodbye.

Thanks for your help. Talk to you later.

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