Culture(s) / On the phone

A1 Breakthrough

In your country, what do you say when you answer the phone? Do you introduce yourself? Do many people have cell phones? Can you call people at any time?

If you need to call someone for professional reasons, respect your correspondant's work hours and take into account any time difference there may be if they're in a different country.
When you call someone over the phone, you introduce yourself, you greet the person you're talking to, you apologise for any inconvenience caused, and you quickly explain your reason for calling. You may leave a message with a third party and ask at what time it might be possible to call back the person you are trying to reach.
If you need to leave a message on the answering machine, you should give the following information: your name, the date, the time of your call, your reason for calling, the number you can be reached and at what time, and a form of address (thank you, see you soon, best regards, ...).
Most often, when you answer the phone, you simply say "Allô." You only greet the other person once they've introduced themselves.

At a business lunch, you turn your cell phone off. When waiting for an important phone call, remember to let your guest know ahead of time, to make sure your phone is on silent, and to leave the restaurant when you get the call. The call should be very short, so as not to keep your guest waiting.
If your cell phone rings while you are having a one on one conversation with someone and you really cannot ignore the call, apologise, turn away, and ask the person if you can call them back later.
When in a meeting, you must also turn your cell phone off in order to look at the person who is speaking.
You should try to avoid phone calls in public places. When you're in a bus or a train, and your cell phone rings, you can answer, but you mustn't speak too loud: you must be discreet regarding those around you. If you hear a conversation, you look away and try not to listen to the conversation.
With cell phones, you often hear people say "Where are you?" at the beginning of the conversation.
When it comes to personal phone calls, you try not to call before 10am on the weekend or after 9pm on weekdays.

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Practical exercises

Culture(s): on the phone

4 exercises
Look • Listen • Intercultural (everyday life)