Talking on the phone is an essential skill if you want to enhance your career in Japan, or maintain a good relationship with a Japanese client.
During these phone calls you may need to:
- make an appointment
- greet your client or boss
- confirm or remind schedules
- report your finding from a research
- attend an interview
- thank your customer
- apologize for any inconvenience
In addition, improving your Japanese during phone calls can enhance your Japanese speaking skills, so don’t be afraid and practice your phone calling skills!
We have provided a good place for you to start practicing now!
Master these 15 must-know phrases for business telephone calls and improve your speaking skills in Japanese!
Osewa ni natte orimasu.
Although there is no perfect translation for this in English, this is a phrase that is used extremely often in business Japanese whenever answering a call from a Japanese client, or making a call to them.
It may be natural to use this phrase when introducing yourself. So you can use it in combination with the next phrase (introducting yourself and company).
In addition, this phrase is used to show your appreciation to the person or company whom you have valuable relationships with.
It is also widely used when you want to greet the speaker in a professional manner.
私、〜[your company]の[your name]と 申します。
Watakushi, [your company] no [your name] to mooshimasu.
I am [company name]’s [speaker name].
You can use this expression when you want to introduce yourself as a representative or employee of your company in a formal manner. Watakushi is a formal form of Watashi and can be used for both men and women.
*Do remember the informal form, Watashi can only be used by women
[name] sama o onegai dekimasudeshoo ka?
May I please speak to [name]?
This expression is used when you want to reach someone specific on the phone. It can be used in situations where you have never met that person before or in situations where you have met that person multiple times.
If you and the person who you are asking for is close enough or in the same company, you can just say “[name] san” instead of “sama”.
[department] no [name] sama irasshaimasude shoo ka?
May I talk to ~ [department]’s [name]?
You might want to be more specific about the person who you want to reach. Perhaps mentioning his or her department will help.
Just add the person’s department name on top and then mention his or her name!
If it’s not a problem…
The Japanese language has a lot of expressions to show your consideration toward the speaker, and this is one of them.
It isn’t necessary to use this phrase everytime you make a request, but if you are aware that:
- Your speaker is particularly busy
- You are asking for something that may be too much to the speaker
It is good manners to be considerate of the speaker and include this phrase at the beginning of your request so that your speaker can turn down your request if necessary.
Senjitsu wa arigatoo gozaimashita.
Thank you for the other day.
Before you get to the main points in the phone call, you might want to thank the speaker for whatever he or she did for you in the recent past.
In Japan, some people may consider it rude to directly get into business.
If you met your speaker in the recent past (perhaps you attended a meeting with her, or went for lunch/dinner), including this phrase at the start of the call lightens up the mood before getting into business.
一度 直接お 話させて 頂きたいのですが…
Ichido chokusetsu ohanashi sasete itadakitaino desuga
I’d like to talk about it directly, but…
There may be times when you need to see your speaker in person. If you are close enough to the speaker, you can directly ask for his or her time.
However, if you are still in the process of building a good relationship with your speaker, try not to be too direct!
Asking someone to meet you in person, is basically asking the other person for their precisous time (especially if they are in a higher position than you or in another company).
You might want to use phrases like these to show that you are considerate!
今 少しお 時間よろしいでしょうか。
Ima sukoshi ojikan yoroshiideshooka?
May I have a little time now?
Before you start speaking about anything on the phone, you can be thoughtful by asking if he/she even has the time to speak with you.
You should especially use this phrase if you are not aware of the situation of the speaker.
Perhaps your speaker is in the train or attending a meeting! So make sure to check whether this is the appropriate time to be talking to your speaker.
Don’t forget to say “thank you” after they answer you “yes”!
本日は〜の 件でご 連絡 致しました。
Honjitsu wa [purpose] no kende gorenraku itashimashita.
Today, I am contacting you on the matter of [purpose].
This expression is used when you want to introduce your main topic of your call.
By clearly stating the topic of your call, you can set the rest of your call to focus on this topic.
Soredewa denngon o onegai dekimasu deshooka?
In that case, can I leave a message?
If the person you want to reach out for is away or unavailable, you might want to ask to leave a message to that person.
In the above case, use this expression to politely leave a message!
You can be even more polite by putting “ご” in front of “伝言(messages)”. This magical letter “ご” can be used with many other nouns to make it sound even more formal or polite.
Itsugoro omodori ni narimasudeshooka?
When will he/she be back?
When you call someone, sometimes he or she might be out. If you want to know the exact time this person will be back and available, you can use this phrase before hanging up.
折り 返しのご 連絡を 頂くことは 可能でしょうか。
Orikaeshi no gorenraku o itadakukoto wa kanoodeshooka?
Is it possible to ask [name] to call me back once he/she is back?
When you call someone, sometimes he or she might be out. Use this expression if you want this person to call you back once he or she is back (or available).
However, be careful when using this phrase with people who you aren’t close with!
If you are not close enough with this person, you may sound arrogant as you are ordering this person to take his/her time to to call you back.
Make sure you have built a good enough relationship before using this phrase.
If you are unsure, asking when this person will be back might be a better option for you!
Ojikan o itadaki arigatoo gozaimashita.
Thank you for your time.
You can use this expression when you are almost finished with your call.
Don’t forget to appreciate the person who made the time to talk with you!
Otesuuo okake shimasuga, yoroshiku onegaiitashimasu.
I am sorry to trouble you, but thank you very much.
This expression is used when you are requesting something to the speaker.Actually, you can just say the latter part “Yoroshiku onegaiitashimasu”.
However, if you want to sound even more polite, you may mention the first part too.
This shows that you are:
- respecting the person
- thankful to the person for taking the time when he or she is busy
Soredewa shitsuree itashimasu.
Well, then please excuse me.
You can end your conversations with this sentence.
After saying this phrase, make sure to wait for your speaker to hang up before you do!
Some Japanese people may find it rude for you to hang up first when you called or requested the speaker to do something for you.
When building a relationship in business, it might help to be extra polite to your speaker!