Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Telephone Tips

Even if you are have a good level in English, talking on the telephone can be a difficult task. Why? Because only a small amount of communication is verbal, that is, the actual words we use. The rest, as much as 90%, is non-verbal - our facial expressions, gestures, the intonation in our voice, body language, etc.

Here is my advice if you are feeling nervous about speaking on the phone:
  • Relax. The more stressed you are, the more difficult it will be to understand. Most people are sympathetic when they realise that English is not your mother tongue, so don't be afraid to tell them so, and ask them to repeat if necessary.
  • Summarise what you have been told. By repeating back in your own words what the caller has said, you can confirm whether you have understand correctly. The caller will appreciate this as a sign that you are interested in what he is saying. If you have to write down a telephone number, email or postal address, read it back to the person for confirmation.
  • Use the international phonetic alphabet when spelling. This is used in avaition to avoid potentially catastophic misunderstandings! You can find it at this site: http://www.answers.com/topic/nato-phonetic-alphabet
  • Concentrate. Don't be distracted by your colleagues, and especially don't be reading your emails at the same time. You need to focus, so cut out unnecessary distractions

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