Nervous About Making Business Calls in English? Try This Technique
Updated: Nov 28, 2018
Does your business require you to make phone calls in English?
Do you ever get nervous or feel like you forget every word of the language as soon as the other person answers the phone?
Try this practice technique that I used while learning German and Spanish.
The Fifth Skill
When I began learning German I designed a plan to practice the four main skills of language every single day.
By focusing on reading, writing, listening and speaking for even just a few minutes per day, I was able to achieve tremendous progress in a very short period of time.
So when I was ready to move to Germany, I thought I was ready.
I picked up the phone, dialed a German moving company and…
Well, let’s just say I was shocked. It was almost like I had never learned a word of German. I was extremely nervous and could barely express myself.
Even though I had all of the vocabulary in my brain to easily write the words that I needed for the conversation, at that very moment when I needed them most, the words weren’t cooperating. They refused to come out of my mouth!
Needless to say I struggled massively with my first real business-related phone call in German.
But through this experience I realized that phone conversations are like a fifth skill in language learning. A skill that requires special attention.
Phone calls are like a mix of face-to-face conversations and listening to podcasts, but instead we cannot see the person we are talking to and the podcast expects us to talk back!
Fortunately, like the other four language skills, I discovered that phone conversations could also be mastered with practice.
Use This Technique to Improve Your Telephone Skills
Since I was moving to Germany, I needed to master the fifth skill fast.
First I practiced role play scenarios online with a native German speaker. The role plays were very helpful but I knew that I needed more repetitions.
A few days later I was shopping for German health insurance and had a few questions. Since I had a few extra minutes I decided to first call a second company, just to see what they had to offer.
I was nervous and stumbled through the call but I managed to communicate and understand their offers. More importantly, when I called my preferred health insurance company a few minutes later, I felt much more relaxed and confident.
I had stumbled upon a technique to improve the fifth language skill in real-world situations!
There are millions of companies all over the world, offering every product and service imaginable. This means you have a limitless source of practice opportunities!
The next day, I was shopping for a new wireless router. Instead of reading through Amazon product descriptions like I would normally do, I decided to call three different electronics retailers to ask a few questions about their products.
When I needed to do some market research a few days later I expanded my initial research objective and decided to call instead of searching online.
I called ten or twelve companies to ask about different costs and services and gained tremendous experience using the same business vocabulary I would need in the future.
In hindsight it seemed so obvious. The fifth skill of phone conversations was no different than the other four. It was all about repetitions and real-world context.
By making phone calls in low pressure situations when it didn’t matter, I discovered that I could rapidly improve my phone conversation skills for situations when it did.
About the Author
Jason Gower is the creator and instructor of Expand Life Business English courses. He has more than fifteen years of business experience and has learned both German and Spanish to a C2 level. Click to learn more about Expand Life Business English courses.