“Hang on….ah yes, I can see the end of the tunnel.”
Can you hear me? It’s a terrible line.
Hang on…let me call you back….
I said…I’ll call you back. Give me a few minutes. Thanks.
You’re expecting an important phone call from a client. You’re on a train. You’d prefer to talk to this client more privately and in a quiet space but you have no choice. They said they’d call you at a specific time and unfortunately you’re out.
Having said that, you’re used to receiving and making calls when you’re out. It’s one of the hazards of being a busy professional.
You’ve prepared for the phone call and you feel comfortable about having the call in English. What you’re not prepared for is the bad connection on the phone that interrupts your call.
And let’s face it, the more you’re out of the office and away from a fixed line, the more likely you’re going to have these situations, right?
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What can cause a bad connection?
If you’re on a train, it could be you’re going through a tunnel and you lose reception or you are in an area where there’s no network coverage for your phone network (e.g. Vodafone).
This can be infuriating and it can put you off your train of thought. In other words, you can lose concentration.
In your own language, you can easily address this connection problem because you have the phrases to help you, but if you don’t have the phrases in English it could leave you feeling stressed out.
And when we’re stressed out, we lose our words.
This is exactly the situation one of my coaching clients recently found herself in, and she asked me if we could go over some phrases she could learn to help her deal with a connection problem in the future.
So, I thought why not write about this and help my other EWATers too?
I’m on the train and the reception is not great. We might lose the connection. If we do, I’ll call you right back.
I am coming up to/approaching a tunnel. I may lose you/We might get cut off.
Sorry…what did you say? It’s a really bad line. I can’t hear you very well. Can I call you back/ can you call me back in five minutes?
It’s a terrible line. We keep getting cut off. Let me call you back when I have better reception.
It’s a really bad line. I can hardly hear you. I’ll call you back in a while. Give me 15 minutes.
Hello…can you hear me? There’s too much interference on the line. I’ll call you back or I’ll send you a What’s App.
So that’s how you could deal with a bad connection.
What about other situations when you are on the road and you can’t take the call? Let’s explore some examples.
You’re in a noisy area.
Hello…Sorry? Sorry….I didn’t catch that….
Hang on…., it’s too noisy here.
Let me find a quiet place and I’ll call you back.
Give me 10 minutes.
You’re parking your car and you receive a call (hands free, of course!)
Hello?…Oh hi…Thanks for calling.
Listen, I’m just parking my/the car. Can I call you back in a minute?
You’re about to board your flight.
Hi, thanks for getting back to me.
Unfortunately, I’m just about to board my flight.
Can I call you as soon as I’ve boarded?
It shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes.
Oh you’re going into a meeting…ok…in that case I’ll call you as soon as I land/I’ve landed…which should be in two hours.
Over to you
You don’t need to remember many phrases. Pick one or two that you like and add them to your phrase bank and practise saying them out loud. That way you become used to saying it before you need to use it in a real situation.
And next time you find yourself in a bad reception area and if you can, listen to what the other person says and make a note of their expression.
What problems have you had on the phone? How have you dealt with them?
Share them here with me and your fellow EWATers.
If you’d like me to write more posts on how to communicate in English via the telephone and conference calls, drop me a line in the comments box.
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Ciao for now
PS My thanks to Belen for giving me the idea for this post.