How to Politely Ask for a Phone Call [Formal & Informal Contexts]

Have you ever found yourself hesitating before asking someone for a phone call, worried about coming across as too forward or intrusive?

In our digitally-driven world, where texting and emails are the norms, the art of requesting a phone conversation has become a nuanced skill.

Let’s explore the tactful ways to bridge this communication gap and make that call happen, without stepping on any digital toes.

Effective Phrases for Requesting a Phone Call in Various Contexts

Professional Context

  1. Formal Request: “May I schedule a convenient time for a phone call to discuss [topic/business matter]?”
  2. Follow-Up: “Could we arrange a phone call to continue our discussion about [specific topic]?”
  3. Urgent Matters: “Is it possible for you to join a brief call today to address an urgent matter regarding [topic]?”

Personal Context

  1. Casual Friend: “Hey, do you have time for a quick chat over the phone later?”
  2. Close Family Member: “Can we catch up over the phone sometime today? I’d love to hear about your day.”
  3. Sensitive Topics: “I think this might be easier to talk about over the phone. When’s a good time to call?”

Formal Settings

  1. Networking: “I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss [topic] further. Would you be open to a phone conversation this week?”
  2. Professional Courtesy: “As a follow-up to our meeting, may I call you to discuss the next steps?”

Informal Settings

  1. Friends: “Hey, got time for a call? I’ve got some exciting news to share!”
  2. Acquaintances: “Would you be up for a phone call sometime? It’d be great to catch up.”

Sensitive or Difficult Conversations

  1. Delicate Matters: “There’s something important I need to discuss with you. Is there a good time for a phone call?”
  2. Apologies or Reconciliations: “I feel this is something we should talk about over the phone. When can I call you?”

Business or Client Interaction

  1. Client Engagement: “Could we set up a call to go over your requirements in more detail?”
  2. Project Updates: “I’d like to update you on the project’s progress. When would be a convenient time for a phone call?”

Cold Calls or New Contacts

  1. Introduction: “Hello [Name], I’m [Your Name] from [Company]. Would it be possible to have a short phone call to introduce our services?”
  2. Networking: “I came across your profile and am impressed with your work in [field]. Could we have a phone conversation about potential collaboration?”

Emergency or Urgent Situations

  1. Immediate Attention: “This matter requires our immediate attention. Can you take a call right now?”
  2. Crisis Management: “We need to discuss our response to the recent issue. When can you be available for an urgent call?”

Key Strategies for Requesting Phone Calls

  1. Give people a concrete and honest reason.
  2. Think about the necessities of other people.
  3. Use the right timing.
  4. Ask yourself if that’s the right person.
  5. Always be friendly.
  6. Face rejection, but insist (up to a point).
  7. Don’t forget to give thanks.

Some general rules can apply to any type of situation to ask for something. That means you can use these rules to ask someone for a favor or to call you.

1. Give people a concrete and honest reason

According to a study performed at Harvard in 1978 by Ellen Langer, it’s more probable that you get something from someone when you give them a reason.

A volunteer had to get close to someone that needed to use a photocopier and ask them to use the machine in the first place. Sometimes, the volunteer had to give a reason, while sometimes don’t.

The study showed that more than 90% of people gave up their place when they were given a reason, even when that reason was ridiculous.

2. Think about the necessities of other people

Remember that people may have reasons not to do us a specific favor – like calling us – so it’s essential to previously know those reasons if it’s possible for you.

3. Use the right timing

Never ask people to call you when they are in a hurry or if they have a problem.

For example, if you want that someone lends you money, don’t ask them for that kind of favor if you know they were recently in a hard-economic situation – and don’t ask them for a call if you know their house just caught fire!

4. Ask yourself if that’s the right person

If you want someone to call you, it’s important to be sure that he/she is the right person. When it regards business, will you try to speak about a service you want to offer to a company, with the sales manager?

5. Always be friendly

Be a gentle person; highlight positive features about the person that you want to help you.

Make it clear to them that they are the only ones that could help you because they know, or they have exactly what you need, or that they are the best at doing what you need.

Also, be sure of using the appropriate words like “would you mind if…” or “if it’s possible for you”. And don’t forget “please” and “thank you!”.

6. Face rejection, but insist (up to a point)

Never take rejection like something personal. Accept it as something that can happen in any aspect of life. Show you’re an understanding person and always leave open the possibility of trying again, on a better occasion.

7. Don’t forget to give thanks, but don’t be too sweet

Say thanks at least three times. If you ask someone for a minute of their valuable time:

  • Say thank you, when they give you that minute.
  • Say thank you, when that minute ends.
  • And say thanks, once you get that call.

If it’s at your fingertips, and depending on the type of people you are asking to call you, give them a kind of gift or present to let them know how you appreciate their attention.

If you were successful with your request, here is a guide on how to best start a phone call depending on the situation, and here is how to end a phone call.

Ask for a Phone Call in a Business Context

Think on what is the best way and moment to reach them! People in professional life are busy people; make it easy for them and get to the point in the first few sentences.

Would you try to talk to someone about having a phone conversation if they’re on their way to a meeting? So, think about their necessities and use the correct timing.

Use phrases like, “I was wondering if we could…” or “pardon me”.

Use proper grammar, speak clearly with positive body language and confidence, but use a soft tone to avoid sounding rude – also avoid reaching that person if there is a lot of noise around, so you don’t have to shout out!

Simply put, be gentle.

Emphasize the intention of having a telephone conversation from the beginning. To smooth things out, you can offer them something valuable they can obtain if they call you.

Don’t tell them you’ll get a benefit from them. You need to sound like they need you, but make them think they are the people you need to talk to. Make them feel important.

If you want to have a phone call in formal situations, use something like:

“My name is XXX from XXX company and I think I have the way to solve this XXX problem you have on your business in the department you are managing. I was wondering if we could have a short telephone conversation in order to schedule a meeting when you have the time. Here is my business card with my phone numbers. Thank you!”

You can use the above sample even in other forms of communication, like when you want to leave a voice message.

And always remember, to be concise. Don’t waste their time trying to give too many explanations; you want them to call you for more detail!

In case you got the agreement to call but they didn’t take the call, make sure to leave a message.

Ask for a Phone Call in Informal Contexts

The same rules, but this time, you can forget about too many formalities. Consider that there’s the possibility you’re allowed to call, instead of receiving a call.

“Calling can sometimes appear aggressive or catch people off guard”, American psychotherapist Dr. Jean Mann says in her book “The Relationship Fix”.

These days, people prefer to text before even having a quick phone call. Text messages are more impersonal, and they also allow less compromise when you are knowing someone for the first time.

It’s also important to remember, that phone calls are used for very specific reasons. Don’t try to call or wait for a phone call at any time, several times per day! And in case you missed them, call them back!

Try to keep a simple conversation and when you feel it’s the right time, just say: “I’m going to call you” or “Call me!”.

In this context “being gentle” is to make the other person feel good, and to “give thanks” means to let the other person know that you enjoyed the conversation and that you expect to have more phone calls like it soon.

How to Ask Someone to Call You Back

If you ask someone to call you back on voicemail or to return your call, specify the reason for the requested callback and a time when you can be reached. When requesting a callback during a call, do so directly in conjunction with a specific appointment.

By offering a specific proposed date for the telephone conversation, it becomes less likely that the other party will only make a loose promise such as: “I’ll call you soon.” You can also offer several days at the same time if you feel the other person is very busy and unlikely to accept every suggested appointment.

When you are addressing a voicemail, you must speak clearly and distinctly, have a polite tone, and for safety’s sake, state your phone number again. Keep the message as short as possible and, if necessary, rehearse your text beforehand if it is a particularly important announcement.

Effective Phrases to Request a Return Call

  1. General Request: “Could you please return my call at your earliest convenience?”
  2. Specific Timing: “Would it be possible for you to call me back today? I’m available between [time] and [time].”
  3. Urgency Indicated: “I would appreciate a callback as soon as possible, as the matter is quite urgent.”
  4. Casual Tone: “Hey, when you get a chance, could you give me a ring back? I’ve got something to discuss with you.”
  5. Professional Context: “I look forward to your return call to further discuss the details of our project.”
  6. Friendly Reminder: “Just dropping a message to kindly remind you to call me back when you’re free.”
  7. Post-Missed Call: “I noticed I missed your call earlier. Could you please call me back at a time that suits you?”
  8. Importance of the Call: “It’s important that we talk. Please call me back when it’s convenient for you.”
  9. Flexibility Offered: “I understand you’re busy, but I’d appreciate a call back when you have a moment.”
  10. Direct and Formal: “Please return my call regarding [specific topic] at your earliest convenience.”

The Science Behind Phone Etiquette

In the realm of communication, phone etiquette is not just a social nicety but a reflection of deeper psychological and sociological principles. A study by Dr. James C. McCroskey and Virginia P. Richmond, published in the “Communication Monographs” (1987), highlights the importance of immediacy behaviors, which include vocal warmth and attentiveness, in effective telephonic communication. These behaviors, they argue, reduce psychological distance and foster a sense of closeness and engagement.

Furthermore, research by Mehrabian and Ferris (1967), “Inference of attitudes from nonverbal communication in two channels” (Journal of Consulting Psychology, 31(3), 248-252), suggests that 38% of our communication is conveyed through tone of voice, underscoring the significance of how we say things over the phone.

In a digital age where text-based communication is prevalent, a study by Misra et al. (2014) in the “Journal of Social and Personal Relationships” found that the mere presence of a mobile phone can negatively impact face-to-face interactions, indicating a nuanced relationship between phone use and social dynamics. These studies collectively underscore the science behind phone etiquette, revealing it as a crucial component of effective and empathetic communication.