Wir starten die Serie mit dem Griff zum Hörer: BANKINGNEWS und Business Spotlight erklären Ihnen, wie Sie in fünf Schritten Ihre Telefonate effektiv gestalten und wie Sie sich in internationalen Telefonaten auf Ihren Geschäftspartner einstellen.


There are five main things you can do to make sure that your telephone calls in English are effective:

1. Have an agenda
Establish the direction of the call right from the start. Discuss what you want to get out of the call and add anything the other person thinks should be discussed:
“John, I think there are three things we need to discuss about the deliveries — quantities, frequency and delivery points. Do you have anything you would like to add?”
If you introduce an agenda for the call, it has two effects. First, it puts you in control. Second, it limits the call to those areas where you feel linguistically prepared.

2. Have a time limit
We are all busy. So tell the other person how much time you think the call should take:
“Hi, John. I’m just calling about the arrangements for your visit. Do you have the time now? It should take about 15 minutes.”
This may not be appropriate if you are phoning someone at a much higher level — the chairman of the board of your company, for example. In that case, ask the other person how much time he or she has.
You might find you do not have enough time for some calls:
“John? Look, I have to be in a meeting in ten minutes. Can I call you back later?”

3. Ask questions
By asking the right questions, you can focus the other person’s thoughts and start coming to conclusions:
“Don’t you think the right way would be to deliver to only three warehouses in future?”
“What if we deliver to three warehouses rather than four? Wouldn’t that be just as effective?”

4. Mini-summaries
Summarize the call at regular intervals. This is good telephone practice in any language, but it is very important when you are working in a second language:
“So what we’ve said so far is…”
After summarizing, get the agreement of the other person that your summary was correct:
“Have I missed anything?”
You might have missed something important that the other person can then add to your summary.

5. E-mail follow-up
“I’ll send you an e-mail to confirm what we have just discussed.”
This way, you can check that you have both understood your conversation.

When you have to make an important international telephone call, it’s good to be prepared. Use a simple acronym to remind you of what to think about in this process: LINK

L is for Level
First, think about the person’s level in the organization. What’s his position?
Second, consider their general level of awareness. What’s her view of business and life? Knowing something about these levels allows you to take the right approach. For example, perhaps the person you are calling is the head of a company’s legal department and has a formal business style. You would then choose a polite approach:
Good morning, Ms Milner. My name is Berger, Michael Berger. I’m chief financial officer at XYZ Partners.

I is for Interest

Do you know what interests or motivates the other person? For example, Ms Milner might be interested in facts and figures. This will influence your choice of words. For example:
Ms Milner, I propose we go through the contract in three stages. First, we’ll look at each clause in detail to see if we need to make any amendments. Second, we can discuss each amendment and rewrite the clauses. Third, I’ll mail you the new contract for further discussions next week.

N is for Needs
What does the other person want to get out of the call? This influences its content. Ms Milner probably wants to sort out legal problems. She’s not particularly interested in any other subject, or even in you. So with her, you need to stick to the facts and forget about unnecessary small talk.
Right, Ms Milner. I’ve made a list of the amendments we discussed. I’ll rewrite the contract and send you the new version on Friday. Thanks for your time. I’ll call you next week.

K is for Knowledge
What does the other person know already about the subject of the call? This will determine how much detail or background you need to go into.
Ms Milner, I know you are very familiar with the background to this contract, so we can get to work.

The more you know about the person on the other end of the line, the easier it is for you to make a successful call. Do some research before important calls, so that you can LINK yourself properly to your business partners.

© Business Spotlight

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Business Spotlight is a language magazine
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Read about international business and
intercultural issues — and learn business
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